Kraków | Auschwitz Birkenau
As you walk through Old Town Kraków, you will enjoy the harmony of a quiet back street, the beautiful architecture and pops of colour.
During our short stay in Kraków we saw locals and tourists trying to beat the heat by sitting/swimming in water fountains and running through any form of water source.
Our main reason for visiting Kraków was to go on a tour to Auschwitz Birkenau, which we would highly recommend that you do if you visit Poland. Even though the day was quite heavy with emotions, it was incredibly informative and worth visiting.
Auschwitz is known all over the world as a symbol of terror, genocide and the Holocaust. The Nazis established it in 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city. Nazis changed the name of Oswiecim to Auschwitz.
Initially the Nazis were going to set up Auschwitz to be one more concentration camp, but it ended up becoming the largest death and concentration camp.
Division of the camp
Established on the grounds and in the buildings of prewar Polish barracks was the first and oldest 'main camp,' later known as 'Auschwitz I.'
The largest park of the Auschwitz complex was the Birkenau camp, also known as 'Auschwitz II.' In the village of Brzezinka, three kilometers from Oswiecim, the Nazis began building Birkenau in 1941. The Polish civilians from the village were evicted and their houses were confiscated and demolished. Mass extermination apparatus was built in Birkenau and majority of the victims were murdered there.
- In the years 1940-1945, the Nazi's deported at least 1,300,000 people to Auschwitz:
- June 1940 - Beginning of deportations of Poles. The Nazis sent 140,000-150,000 Polish prisoners to the camp, where half of them perished.
- June 1941 - Beginning of deportations of 25,000 prisoners from other ethnic groups. About half of them perished in the camp.
- Summer 1941 - Beginning of deportations of 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war. Most died during their imprisonment, only a few survived.
- March 1942 - Beginning of deportations of 1,100,000 Jews. About 1 million deported Jews were murdered by the SS, mainly in gas chambers.
- February 1943 - Beginning of deportations of 23,000 ROMA (Gypsies), of this number, 21,000 perished.
- 1,100,000 of these people died in Auschwitz. Approximately 90% of the victims were Jews.
- Estimated number of Jews deported to Auschwitz:
- 430,000 from Hungary
- 300,000 from Poland
- 69,000 from France
- 60,000 from The Netherlands
- 55,000 from Greece
- 46,000 from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
- 27,000 from Slovakia
- 25,000 from Belgium
- 23,000 from Austria and Germany
- 10,000 from Yugoslavia
- 7,500 from Italy
- 690 from Norway
- Plus approximately 34,000 Jewish individuals transferred from other concentration camps.