Poland’s history has been marked by great suffering. Unfortunately, its manifestation is the concentration camps (otherwise known as extermination camps), which have left their mark forever. The unimaginable suffering to which people were subjected should not be forgotten. This is why the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum was established. It can be visited, however, with due respect and solemnity.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp was established in the 1940s in the area of Oświęcim. It is a place of mass genocide. The main victims were Jews, but the camp also included Poles (up to 40% of all registered prisoners), Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, and people of over 20 other nationalities. The scale of this camp is difficult to describe in words.
That is why today it is a Memorial that is meant to remind us to what human hatred can lead, to what atrocities it can lead
In 1979 the Museum was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a very important place for documenting human suffering and cruelty. The Museum was established in 1947 and has performed its important function ever since.
You can visit the Memorial on your own or with a guide. Many companies offer organised Auschwitz tour. Surely the presence of a guide will allow us to learn more about the history of this place, to understand what happened there. And this is not light knowledge.
The time you need to devote to the tour is up to 7 hours, and although it may seem like too much time, it is worth taking into account how big the site is and that some of its elements are located several kilometres apart.
We must also remember that we are visiting a place marked by great suffering, so it is not easy emotionally. That is why it is worth taking time to calm the thoughts and emotions that will arise within us.
What is worth remembering?
This place requires absolute concentration and great respect and appropriate behaviour. There is no denying that this place is “popular” – up to two million tourists visit it every year. Consequently, some of them may forget or be unaware of where they are. However, it is still worth considering that the museum was created to honour the prisoners and their memory, so respect is necessary. Let’s consider, before we pull out our phones to take a selfie, whether we really need one.