It’s hard to imagine Auschwitz today and what does such place look like after many years without being there.
But you can get almost full image of this memorable place before visiting it.
After this article you will have a glance of what to expect there.
Take a look at these shattering descriptions, pitures and videos. They will help you decide if you want to visit Auschwitz.
Come on and see the truth.
Table of Contents
- 1 How is Auschwitz today? 360′ walk trough
- 2 Witness enclosed in pictures
- 3 Entrance to Auschwitz – Arbeit Macht Frei Gate
- 4 Same blocks then and today
- 5 Place of many deaths – the Execution Wall
- 6 The Death Gate of the Auschwitz II
- 7 The unloading ramp – place of selections
- 8 The vast space of Auschwitz today
- 9 Barracks with inhuman conditions
- 10 Provisional camp latrines
- 11 Fearful gas chambers
- 12 Crematories in Auschwitz
- 13 Auschwitz today – summary
How is Auschwitz today? 360′ walk trough
Go for your first walk trough Auschwitz.
Quite sad experience, right?
If Auschwitz today looks frightfully, we can only imagine how terrifying it was during World War II.
Despite the passage of time, Auschwitz is still one of the most important historical sites in Poland.
This place is still a living memory of hunger, suffering, torture and death. We can not forget that thousands of innocent people lost their lives there, in unhuman conditions and without any proper reason other than their race or religious beliefs.
That’s why Auschwitz is not another tourist attraction to cross out from the list of places to see.
Do you want to see more of it?
That’s great, but remember – visiting Auschwitz should trigger reflections instead of being just entertainment.
Witness enclosed in pictures
Historians were able to restore the original image of Auschwitz thanks to pictures of it.
Who took these photos?
Most of them were left by the Nazis. Wthout them the exhibitions presenting Auschwitz today would be much poorer. These hundreds of pictures are now an irrefutable proof of the scale on which Auschwitz operated.
What can we see in them?
The pictures immortalize not only the prisoners’ faces but also the last moments of their lives. You can see them arriving at Auschwitz, how they lived and how their bodies changed after weeks of insufficient nutrition and hard labour.
Be prepared for afflicting view.
The black and white shocking Auschwitz pictures taken while the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz still operated are changing the way we imagine this place today.
But it’s only small piece of what you can see.
During your tour to this bleak place, you will encounter a lot of faded photos of its former prisoners put on display there. It is also a fact that the overall impression of this UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site is not the most pleasant place on Earth you will ever sightsee.
Just like those old Auschwitz pictures indicate it.
However, once you take your informative tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau extermination facilities, you will also realise another thing.
Namely, that there are colours present all around the space.
Auschwitz today is almost the same place as 70-80 years ago. You can enter the same buildings and walk on the same paths as Auschwitz’s prisoners did.
Follow this post and see the most important elements today’s Auschwitz.
Entrance to Auschwitz – Arbeit Macht Frei Gate
“Arbeit macht frei” gate is the most important and recognizable symbol of Auschwitz. It was made in the camp’s forge by some selected inmates of the camp back in 1940. The gate was what columns of slave labourers from Auschwitz used to march through on everyday basis.
Imagine that those marches were often accompanied by the sounds of a camp orchestra, composed of 71 skilled prisoners.
Same blocks then and today
Upon your visit to Auschwitz, you will be let inside some of its blocks. There are some special exhibitions inside them.
The raw architecture of small-windowed, brick-made blocks surrounded by squares and alleys broad enough to allow for endless roll calls by the Nazi torturers. This indicates to the horrors that were lived through inside camp.
Every barrack is unique.
Block 10. – place of scary experiments
For example block no. 10 is particularly infamous for the criminal medical experiments carried out by dr Carl Clauberg inside.
What were the experiments for?
Professor Carl Clauberg was responsible for coming up with the best method of sterilization, one that would ensure infertility in an unlimited number of people in the shortest period of time.
His painful experiments were carried out on more or less 400 Jewish women.
What happened to them?
Many of them died due to complications such as peritonitis, hemorrhages form the reproductive tract, high fever and sepsis.
But it’s not the end of that sad story…
Those who survived the procedures were deliberately put to death so that the autopsies could be done.
Unfortunately Clauberg wasnt’ the only one
A different kind of experiments was carried out by another medical criminal, SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Mengele. His research concerned twins and people suffering from dwarfism. When various medical examinations were over, the patients were killed with lethal injections of phenol to the heart.
To perform autopsies and the comparative analysis of their internal organs.
Block 7 and Auschwitz’s Daily Routine
Block 7 is a place where Auschwitz’s prisoners were gathered. This building shows us sets of pictures of Auschwitz detainees, piles of their personal belongings, the camp latrines and baths.
The working day at the camp began at 4:30 or 5:30 in the morning (depending on the season of the year) and lasted until 7 o’clock in the evening. The prisoners had various kinds of labor inside and outside the camp boundaries.
The prisoners returning to the camp carried the corpses of those who had died or been killed while working.
And it’s not the end of sad facts about Auschwitz.
Place of many deaths – the Execution Wall
The Execution Wall of Auschwitz is placed between Blocks no. 10 and 11.
This is where the disobedient prisoners of the camp used to be shot.
The executions had their own routine:
- If there were women among the condemned, they were led into the courtyard and shot first.
- All prisoners had to strip naked and walked to the wall in pairs.
- The executioner approached them from behind and shot them in the back of their heads with a small caliber rifle.
- The corpses were then loaded onto trucks or carts and delivered to crematoria.
Among the victims of the Death Wall there are mostly Polish political prisoners and members of clandestine organizations.
You must be wondering:
How many people died this way?
There isn’t much information about the number of victims of shooting as a great majority of the killed was never entered in the camp records.
In special cases death sentences were passed by courts operating inside the barrack adjoined to the courtyard.
You will often see fresh flowers placed at the site, as well as at many other locations inside the camp where a considerable number of prisoners were killed.
The Death Gate of the Auschwitz II
This picture of Auschwitz today shows the entrance to Birkenau, dubbed into “the Death Gate” by the prisoners.
40 to 50 long trains filled with Jews were passing through this gate each day, starting in the middle of May, 1944.
The route led to the third unloading ramp. There were literally not a single prisoner or victim of Auschwitz-Birkenau having been transported inside through this raw and blood chilling construction.
The unloading ramp – place of selections
There were three different unloading ramps built in Auschwitz camp.
“Alte Judenrampe” was the longest used one (between 1942 and May 1944). The ramp was located between the camps of Auschwitz I and II (Birkenau). After the frequency of transports to Auschwitz intensified, the Nazi operators relocated the ramp and selection process behind the Death Gate.
What the selection was for?
This was all meant to facilitate the process of classifying the newcomers as capable for work (nearly 20% of all Jews transported to the camp) or sentenced to death inside gas chambers. Prisoners were lined up in two rows:
- One row consisted of adult men and older boys.
- In the other row stood women and young children.
- The decision about the future of the people was based entirely on their appearance. If they looked too young, too old or too sick, they were sent to death.
What happened next?
Personal belongings were confiscated and many prisoners were killed on the spot immdiately to show the rest that their life depends on the whims of their oppressors.
Also doctors, such as previously mentioned professor Carl Clauberg, used to come to the ramp and select the future victims of their experiments.
Abandoned after the war, the ramp started to be overgrown with bushes and slowly got devastated. It was brought to its original state in 2004. Two authentic carriages from the time of war were placed on the tracks to symbolize the bloody history of this site.
The vast space of Auschwitz today
The picture says a lot about how large the camp of Auschwitz was.
The barbed-wired area was the biggest extermination and concentration camp of entire Europe.
Surface was complemented by high voltage applied to the wire and a lot of watchtowers.
That made the escape from camp nearly impossible.
There were approximately 300 barracks and buildings with housing, administrative and infrastructure purposes in total.
Barracks with inhuman conditions
None of us can imagine how terrible everyday life in Auschwitz was.
But construction of barracks from the inside moves the imagination.
Picture above shows a typical interior of a barrack where inmates were forced to live. Prisoners of Auschwitz would share wooden cots with their fellow imprisoned ones, sleep on the floor covered with hay or straw mattresses.
In theory, the blocks were supposed to hold about 700 prisoners each, in practice though, they housed more than 1200. The rooms were so overcrowded that prisoners could sleep only on their sides, in three rows.
The barracks erected in Birkenau were originally designed as horse stables, so they weren’t resistant to freezing temperatures.
The barracks in Birkenau were divided according to their function.
- men’s camps
- women’s camps
- gypsy families camp
- hospital camp for men
- quarantine camp for men prisoners
- family camp for Jews from Theresienstadt
- three transit camps
All were opened and used in various time periods, sometimes one replaced the other.
You have to know:
Family camps were the only possibility for men, women and children to stay together. They were however opened solely for the reasons of propaganda. Prisoners were ordered to write censored correspondence which later was used as a tool to mislead public opinion.
Provisional camp latrines
It’s obvious that living conditions at Birkenau were horrifying.
Intimacy and privacy were the concepts totally denied to its prisoners.
Quarantine section of Auschwitz today is a place where you can see that the latrines were just holes in a concrete block.
Fearful gas chambers
Gas chambers will possibly be the most moving part of your tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Initially there was only one gas chamber in Auschwitz and it was joined to crematory I since 1941.
Later also farmhouses were adopted to exterminate people.
Construction of it was well planned
- it’s dimensions are 17 x 4,5 m
- the entrance had the inscription suggesting there was a washing room inside
- it had the capacity of 700 to 800 people
Later on, there were 2 additional gas chambers (“red” and “white” houses) built inside nearby houses left by their Polish owners after the camp had been established.
Afterwards they were replaced by a complex of four gigantic gas chambers and crematories. Each gas chamber could kill up to 2,000 people at once.
As only the door was locked behind the people gathered inside, the operators of Holocaust used to insert Zyklon B gas inside, watching the death of their victims through a glazed door panel.
Did you know, that:
People were requested to undress before they could enter the chambers, To keep the idea of the shower even more realistic?
After the process was finished, designated prisoners took care of the corpses: cut their hair, removed golden teeth and took the jewellery. The loot was later re-used by the camp authorities.
Crematories in Auschwitz
Crematories were built in Birkenau between 1942 and 1943.
All crematories could burn 4416 corps a day. It was estimated that 1.6 million people a year could be burned there.
During your tour to Auschwitz, you will see the interior of crematorium I within the premises of Auschwitz I. This is where the members of Sonderkommando were harnessed to dispose of the bodies of Jews murdered inside gas chambers.
Crematories II-V were built in the territory of Birkenau a bit later.
They were managed to be destroyed near the end of WWII.
Leaving them intact would provide evidence in the hands of the Allies.
The same happened with number of facilities surrounding the extermination-aimed places of the camp.
Auschwitz today – summary
Nowadays Auschwitz is a memorial place to the tragedy of Holocaust.
A visit to Auschwitz today will undeniably make an unforgettable impression on you as it has on millions of previous visitors since the beginning of its operation as a museum. Here you can find first-hand report from one of them:
You can still find all symbols of this unpleasant place, touch them and feel their depressing ambience.
Visiting Auschwitz today is the only way to fully understand Nazi crimes.
If you are ready to face this place, take part in one of organized, guided tours to Auschwitz-Birkenau.