Today is Holocaust Memorial Day and I thought it would be an appropriate time to share some photos from my trip to Auschwitz. I visited back in December 2013 with my sister, during a road trip holiday around Europe. We had driven from Budapest, Vienna and Prague and thought as we were so close we should definitely try and visit before we headed home. On our last day of the holiday, we left Prague at 5am to do the 5 hour drive to Auschwitz. It was a freezing cold morning and the drive through the Polish countryside was beautiful - the sun was just coming up and mist covered the ground. We arrived around 11am, and had time to visit both camps and have a look around the exhibitions. If you're going, I would advise going a little earlier as we couldn't quite squeeze everything in.
Auschwitz in itself is slightly indescribable. Walking through the gates it oddly felt like I had been before - from watching films, looking at war photos and reading I'm sure most people can visualize the concentration camps without having been. Most of the barracks had been transformed into incredibly moving exhibitions with evidence of the atrocities committed. One room that will really stick with me was one which showed photos of all the murdered children (those who had been identified).
Another harrowing exhibition which I couldn't quite get my head around held the belongings of those that had been murdered. There were rooms stacked to the ceiling with shoes, suitcases and hair of the victims. There is also a huge 'book' the length of a room which documents names of those who had died in the camps. Despite seeing all this graphic evidence, it's still hard to comprehend the fact that people would choose to do this to others.
After looking around Auschwitz I we got a bus to Auschwitz II - Birkenau, otherwise know as the Extermination camp. This camp was huge and from one side we couldn't see the last barracks at the other end. The whole camp was shrouded in mist and cold wintery sunlight which added to the chilling atmosphere of the place.
I'll never forgot that trip, and we should never forget what happened there. If you don't want to visit Auschwitz, I can recommend the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.