Polska Part II - Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp


To see the Salt Mine was one of the host humbling experiences. To think that human hands could create such
a marvelous feat of workmanship. What was profoundly evident was the scrupulous work ethic that these young men of the time had displayed; a work ethic which one might fear will never exist again.

780 steps (all down) and 2 km of footwork underground
This visit was worth the 780 steps (all down) and 2 km of footwork underground. The carvings were impressive; the cage or lift coming up was a tight squeeze. As a Polish tourist attraction, Wieliczka was pretty expensive.

It's 100 zloty to visit the mine with an English speaking tour guide and return bus ride to/from the city. The price seems outrageous when compared with the price of a museum ticket, but if you consider that it's a 2 hour guided tour that goes through 2 km of mines, it's a bit more reasonable - though still a lot of money.

The idea of a fun trip to a salt mine may sound a little dubious. And as you head out through the suburbs you may wonder just why you are leaving the glories of the city behind. However, it is not just the antiquity of these mines that makes them worth the trip, they are also home to one of the wonders of Poland.

This is the chapel of the Blessed Kinga, which to all intents and purposes is a full blown church, the only difference being that it is 200 metres undergound, and carved entirely from salt, (including the chandeliers that hang from the ceiling). It is a quite astounding sight, and all the more so as it was carved not by an outsider, but by a group of gifted miners themselves.

200 metres undergound Church, and carved entirely from salt.

Entering the mines involves a long descent by stairwell. The chapel of the Blessed Kinga is the undoubtedshow-stopper, yet it is only one of several attractions. There is a handful more smaller chapels, including theseventeenth century chapel of St. Anthony, and a huge underground salt lake.

 All tours are guided, which means that sometimes we cannot linger in the more captivating rooms for as long as you might like. However, if you have more than two nights in the Krakow, or bad weather strikes, the mines make a very worthwhile trip.


“Arbeit Macht Frei”,  “work sets you free”

Last day in Krakow. I left for Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp tour departed in the morning.

Auschwitz was the scene of the extermination and concentration camps during WWII, where over one and a half million Jews, Polish political prisoners, Roma, Communists, homosexuals and "anti-social elements" were murdered by the Nazis.
The train track leading to the camp main entrance.
Flowers in commemoration of the victims

 It has become synonymous for the biggest crime of all mankind and is well documented where the planned and organized genocide took place; its victims were not buried, but burnt and their ashes spread over the fields in the vicinity.

AUSCHWITZ concentration camp

In Auschwitz, at least one and a half million innocent people of many nations died, 90 percent of them Jews. Human language is too poor to describe all those cruelties that the inmates - men, women and children - had to face and go through every day.

They were not only killed in the most atrocious way, they also die from starvation, and numberless human beings had to work hardest under unbelievable conditions until they died from exhaustion.

Four years of Auschwitz mean the realization of a deeply inhuman ideology which exterminated people by means of industrial methods after they had been selected according to "racial principles".

Today, the remains of the camp cannot give total insight into what happened there to hundreds thousands of people anymore.

The new generations, can hardly believe, and even less understand, what cruelties the Nazis committed in Auschwitz as well as in other similar places.
Extermination by "racial principles"

And the event took place far from the region I was raised, the only source was history class in high-school.

But I can imagine how unbelievable in their dimensions and brutality happened about 70 years ago.

This camp wasn't a delight place to visit. One can feel the trauma of the people who were the victims and related family members.

Dare to escape? Some escaped and survived

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