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Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

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The State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau is one of the most important memorials in modern history. Over 1 million people were once murdered here in the former concentration and extermination camp by the Nazi dictatorship. Every year, the Memorial of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum educates hundreds of thousands of people about the horrors of the Holocaust and serves as a memorial against the inhuman ideology of the Nazis.
Klaus KainzBy Klaus Kainz
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Tickets & Transportation

Book a ticket and transportation in order to visit the site without a guide.
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Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Day Trip with Tour Leader
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Guided Tours

Take advantage of the knowledge of a guide when you visit the site.
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From Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour with Transportation
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Auschwitz Ticket and Full-Day Tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial full-day guided tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz Birkenau: Complete Private Tour
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More Tickets & Tours

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Krakow: Auschwitz & Wieliczka Salt Mine Guided Day Tour
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Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Guided Tour Pickup/Lunch Options
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Krakow: Auschwitz Guided Tour with Optional Lunch and Pickup
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From Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Guided Tour & Pickup Options
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7 tips for visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Auschwitz-Birkenau | Photo: Unsplash, Lidia Stawinska
1
Avoid crowdsMany groups come to the memorial, especially on afternoons in the summer. Less crowds are to be expected in the morning hours.
Auschwitz-Birkenau | Photo: Unsplash, Colin C Murphy
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There are two visitor areasTwo parts of the complex can be visited: The older camp, Auschwitz I, and the larger, Auschwitz-Birkenau II. A free bus runs between the two parts.
3
Book guided tours in timeThe Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum offers guests a variety of guided tours. There are general tours for groups that usually last between two and four hours, though individual tours can also be requested. For study tours, the museum offers one or two-day guided tours. In any case, due to the large interest, it is recommended to book tickets at least two months before the visit.
4
Eat and drink in advanceInside the museum and memorial you are not allowed to eat or drink. There is a café near the entrance to Auschwitz I camp, but no other eating option. Bringing a water bottle is allowed inside the facility; which you should not forget to do, especially in the summer.
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Choose the right clothesThere are far distances to cover, so wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing. In summer, sunscreen and a head covering are important.
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Virtual tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumThose who want to get an idea of the historical site before a visit can do so with a virtual guide. This digital tour, which was created with several 360° images, can be accessed via this link.
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Learn about the history of Auschwitz-BirkenauIf you're not sure about the subject matter on site, get a brief history overview with our historical outline at the bottom of this webpage.
Auschwitz-Birkenau gate | Michel Zacharz AKA Grippenn CC BY-SA-2.5

History of Auschwitz since the Holocaust until today

Few places symbolize Nazi terror as well as genocide as much as the Auschwitz extermination camp. Of the approximately 6 million Jews murdered, more than one million were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp alone - but other minorities were also murdered. The memorial ensures that this terrible fact is not forgotten.

History of horror

As early as 1940, Auschwitz I was established as a concentration camp for political prisoners, while the larger Auschwitz-Birkenau II camp was built in 1941 as a labor and extermination camp. Up to 125,000 people could be imprisoned in the latter; however, most were immediately killed in the gas chambers and burned in the crematoria immediately upon arrival. Not only did over 1 million Jews meet a horrible death at the hands of Nazi mass murder, but hundreds of thousands of Sinti, Roma, Poles and homosexuals also died here. Those who were not murdered in the gas chambers often died from mistreatment or malnutrition. On January 27, 1945, the camp was liberated by the Red Army.

A difficult history of coming to terms

Criminal prosecution and social discourse about the Holocaust in Germany proceeded slowly at first and with few successes. In total, only 800 of the estimated 8,000 SS personnel who served at Auschwitz were eventually convicted. The main war criminals were sentenced at Nuremberg after the end of the war, however, the complicity of the wider population became taboo. It was not until the 1960s that the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials took place, in part to the work of Attorney General Fritz Bauer. The first trials in 1963 were to last a full 20 months, ending mostly in guilty verdicts and confronting Germany with its immediate Nazi past. In Germany two more trials followed, as well as follow-up trials. The Austrian Auschwitz trials in Vienna, in turn, ended in 1972 with two acquittals amid little attention.
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp | Dieglop CC BY-SA 4.0

Memorial and Museum

Already in 1947, two years after the end of the war, a resolution of the Polish Parliament established the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Today, many of the exhibitions are located in the Auschwitz I camp, but one should also visit Auschwitz II. The crematoria were destroyed by the Nazis shortly before the camp was liberated, but the remains are still visible today, as are the railroad tracks and freight cars in which the victims were deported. Conflicts over the museum's design arose during the Cold War, but the permanent exhibit has maintained its basic form since Stalin's death in 1955. All nations from which victims of the Holocaust originated were given the opportunity to create their own memorials since 1960. Since 1979, the site has officially been part of UNESCO's World Heritage List as historical evidence of Nazi Germany's industrial mass murder.
Auschwitz-Birkenau entrance | xiquinhosilva CC BY 2.0

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum today

As early as 1955, the permanent exhibition was opened within the blocks 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11 of the former Auschwitz I camp. Lists of victims' names, photographs, copies of files from the camp and historical objects are on display here. Other exhibits describe the process of arrival at the camp and depict living quarters and the camp's prison. Likewise, the museum presents a courtyard where executions took place and a gas chamber. In addition to its educational mission, the museum is also committed to historical research and the preservation of the site and its historical objects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum accessible for people with disabilities?

The grounds have been equipped with ramps in many places, but due to its historical nature it is not universally wheelchair-friendly. An escort for people in wheelchairs is recommended, and staff will also be happy to help out. Particularly the streets in the Auschwitz II area are not suitable for wheelchairs, and other areas, such as the Death Gate Tower, are not accessible to wheelchairs. Audio aids are provided for people with vision impairments. Assistance dogs are allowed in the museum. Read more.

From what age can children visit the memorial?

The museum recommends a minimum age of 14, but younger children are allowed into the complex if their parents agree. There are no special offers for children, so they should get explanations about the exhibition from guides or their parents. Read more.

Is it allowed to take pictures?

In principle, photography without flash and tripods is allowed. However, it is strictly prohibited in Room 5 of Block 4 and the cells in Block 11. Guests are also asked not to use cell phones in the exhibitions or in the courtyard of Block 11 for reasons of piety. For the same reason, you are expected not to share selfies via social media, for example. Read more.

How long does a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum take?

At least 90 minutes should be expected for a visit and it is recommended to visit both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II. Guided tours last at least 2.5 hours. Read more.

General information

opening hours

The museum is open daily and all year, closed only on January 1, Easter Sunday and December 25. It opens daily at 7:30 am and closes at 2:00 pm in December, 3:00 pm in January and November, 4:00 pm in February, 5:00 pm in March and October, 6:00 pm in April, May and September, and 7:00 pm in June, July and August. Times may vary during state visits, ceremonies and other occasions.

address

Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
Więźniów Oświęcimia 20
32-603 Oświęcim
Poland

website

Official site: https://www.auschwitz.org/

tickets

Admission to the museum is free, although guests must book a ticket. Guided tours, however, are chargeable. A general tour between 2.5 and 3.5 hours for up to 30 people costs between PL 620 and PL 770 depending on the number of people, study tours with up to 30 people with a guide cost between PL 890 and PL 1040.

how to get there

Visitors can arrive via PKS buses or minibusses from Krakow or Katowice. A car park is available at Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej Str. no. 16. The museum is about 2km from the train station of Oświęcim, and the museum is about a 20-minute walk away, or you can take a local bus. Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau II are 3.5km apart, and there is a free shuttle bus which takes visitors from one to the other. Visitors can also walk this distance, there are a few things to see related to the camps while you walk.
Klaus Kainz
Written byKlaus KainzAs a studied historian, Klaus is not only interested in historical sights, but also in their fascinating backgrounds. For TicketLens, he gets to the heart of the most interesting information about attractions and travel destinations.
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