Krakow and desolation at Auschwich
Trip Start Jun 24, 2005
86Trip End Mar 24, 2008
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Where I stayed
On the train, I met Marta, a Spanish girl working in Prague that was travelling to Krakow for the weekend. We luckily only shared our couchette with one other person which normally fits 6. It was suprisingly comfortable sleeping overnight in the old train.
We checked ourselves into the Garden Hostel very centrally located near the centre square in Krakow
In the town square, many stores and food stands stay open all day and night. For dinner, I had some great Polish sausages and Bibo (a type of Polish concoction of cabbage and meat) at the large BBQ stands. Washing it all down with Polish beer was just what the doctor ordered. Many people ate and hung out in the square and the spirits were high. The combination made Krakow a lovely place.
Auschwich is very close to Krakow, about a 1.5 hr train ride away. It was a desolate experience visiting the concentration camps. I do not know the right words to describe the feeling. Originally built by the Polish to keep political prisoners and dangerous criminals, it was turned into a concentration camp by the Germans in WWII. The Auschwich camp is the one most visited and has many memorials and exhibitions for visitors to learn about the history and the past. The information is very comprehensive.
Between bunkers 12 and 13 was a wall where the Nazis executed thousands of people
Although Auschwich is the most well known, the Berkenau camp is actually the biggest at about 3 times the size. It was there that the Nazis installed the massive gas chambers. The state of Berkenau is left exactly as it was. Many building (especially the gas chambers) were destroyed by the Nazis when they fled. The camp is massive and looking into the grounds, you could imagine what it might have looked like back then. A railroad runs through the centre of the camp from the entrance to the Gas Chambers at the back. On the two sides, hundreds and hundreds of brick barracks stand in straight lines reaching to the ends of the camp.
Some barracks still stand and you can see the horrific conditions inside. It is exactly as how it is portrayed in the movies. On the two ends of the barracks are the wooden bunks and in the centre of the barrack are about 50 toilet 'holes' in two rows. There were no toilet paper and water was not allowed in the barracks. You can imagine.....