Former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp
Auschwitz-Birkenau is a name that is synonymous with the Second World War and the Holocaust, a warning for the world about the horrors of genocide and the dangers of radicalism. But at the same time, it also serves as a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of the human spirit, and its enduring capacity to survive in even the most unimaginable circumstances.
Today, the site is open to the public as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum – a 20- hectare complex located approximately 70 kilometres from Kraków, on the outskirts of the town of Oświęcim (called Auschwitz in German). Although originally designed to hold Polish political prisoners, the camp was later expanded significantly as the implementation of the German Nazi ideology of the ‘Final Solution’ gathered pace from 1942 onwards and it became one of the centres of the mass extermination of the Jewish people in Europe. Historians estimate that during the almost 5 years that the camp was operational, the Nazis deported approximately 1.3 million people of more than 20 different nationalities there. In total, it is estimated that only around 200,000 of all the people deported to Auschwitz survived to the end of war.
The Museum was officially opened on 14 June 1947, the seventh anniversary of the first transport to Auschwitz, in a ceremony attended by tens of thousands of people, including a number of former camp prisoners who had been closely involved in setting up the Memorial. In 1979, the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was entered on the UNESCO international list of world heritage sites. As the only such object on the list, it therefore symbolises all the Nazi camps.
A visit to the Auschwitz Memorial is a must not only for the opportunity it provides to reflect on the shocking events that took place in the camp but also for the fact it allows the memory of the victims to be kept alive for future generations.
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
20 Więźniów Oświęcimia Street
+48 33 844 8000