Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau

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5 historical facts about Auschwitz-Birkenau

With the world distracted by war, the Nazis brutally reshaped the demographics of Europe in the south of Poland. The harrowing truth wasn't revealed until far too late, but here are a few of the many things you'll learn on your tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau is just one camp in a complex

    1. Auschwitz-Birkenau is just one camp in a complex

    Auschwitz-Birkenau – or Auschwitz II – was used as a death camp from 1942, primarily for Jews. Auschwitz I had already been holding Polish political prisoners for two years.

  • It wasn't all run by the state

    2. It wasn't all run by the state

    There was a third camp too. Monowitz – or Auschwitz III – was set up to provide slave labor for IG Farben. The Allies dissolved the chemical company the war.

  • 1.1 million were killed

    3. 1.1 million were killed

    90% were Jews, but thousands of Poles, Romani, Soviets, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals also died at Auschwitz. As did prisoners from other nationalities.

  • The world had no idea

    4. The world had no idea

    Not even most Germans knew what was happening at the camps. Arrivals were met with the slogan "Work sets you free." In hindsight it's hard to say how convincing that actually was.

  • The camp commander went into hiding

    5. The camp commander went into hiding

    Disguised as a farmer in Gottrupel, Rudolf Höss evaded capture for a year after the war. In spite of his expressed remorsed, he was hung outside the camp's crematorium in 1947.

Planning Your Visit

  • What are the opening times?

    The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is open daily from 8am except for January 1st, December 25th, and Easter Sunday. It closes at 3pm from December to February, 4pm in March and November, 5pm in April and October, 6pm in May and September, and 7pm from June to August. The site can be accessed for free but it is advisable to take a tour. If you decide to do so, book your tickets in advance. The best ones fill up very quickly!

  • How to get there from Krakow?

    The easiest way is simply to book an all-in-one tour that leaves from the city. Alternatively, inexpensive buses frequently leave from the basement floor of Krakow's main bus station. You can also take a train to the nearby town of Oświęcim.

  • When to visit?

    Krakow is a wonderful city with a great deal of attraction to please tourists. Though Auschwitz may be an essential part of your trip, it can be emotionally overwhelming. We recommend that you leave it till last.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open daily.
    Hours vary based on time of year:
    7:30 AM-2:00 PM, December
    7:30 AM-3:00 PM, January, November
    7:30 AM-4:00 PM, February
    7:30 AM-5:00 PM, March, October
    7:30 AM-6:00 PM, April, May, September
    7:30 AM-7:00 PM, June, July, August
    Holiday hours may vary
  • Is it expensive?
    Basic entrance is free, but it is highly recommended take a tour which will have a cost depending on which one you choose.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It's not required but highly recommended. Best to book in advance online!
  • How to get there
    There are direct buses from Krakow. Alternatively, take the train to Oświęcim and then hop on local bus to the site.
  • Additional information
    Not recommended for children under 14.

What people are saying about Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 50,641 reviews

Not the best place for an excursion with children. The museum and its history are shocking. But everyone should visit it, it is very important to know our history. The guide in the museum very delicately and tolerantly explained all the information to us. In some places, tears rolled over my eyes.

The tour lasts about 7 hours, but the road takes a lot of time. The buses are very comfortable, you can sleep on the road. There is a shop, cafe and toilets near the museum. But it is better to take food and water with you, because the breaks during the day are 15 minutes.

Organization of the trip at the highest level. At the beginning of the day, the group leader handed out stickers and tickets to everyone. It is very important to have your passport with you. The security in the museum is very strict, they check like at the airport.

Excellent work of the company. Everything is punctual, no queues, the organization is at the highest level. The driver is professional, the leader of the group has always been with us, it is impossible to get lost.

It is better to set aside a whole day for this excursion. I advise you to pay attention to the weather because part of the tour is outdoors. It is several degrees colder there than in Krakow.