What is Auschwitz and Birkenau like? What are my expectations while in this place?
Visiting Auschwitz is a rare experience—probably one for which few of us are truly prepared. You will likely feel a wide range of emotions and will be surrounded by many other people while visiting.
As you prepare to visit such a historical and hallowed site, please remember
the following things:
- Be quietly respectful. Many visitors are here to pay proper respects and are highly offended by seemingly loud and overly joyful behavior.
- Conversations in passing and laughter should be kept low. When you are wearing your headsets, conversations with other people who are also wearing headsets are louder than they seem. Please be aware of your volume. If you enter a place where they request silence, like the gas chamber at Auschwitz I, respect that request for silence and do not talk, even at a whisper.
- Make sure cell phones are set to vibrate or silent. Be mindful of others and their need for quiet reflection.
- Use tact and be discreet when photographing items and obey “no photos allowed” signs and warnings. Remember that while we are intent on capturing the experience through photos, we are also photographing all that remains of hundreds of thousands of people. A desire for a photo could turn into a distraction for others and even a disrespectful or forbidden act.
Are there guides while we tour the Concentration Camps?
CANDLES hires Auschwitz-trained guides for the tours. These guides have completed a seven-week training course and are very knowledgeable about the camps. This information is presented first and then followed up with the audio tour in which Eva shares her personal experiences while in camp.
Is this a physically taxing trip?
Yes. Although we have a tour bus, the majority of our travel is by foot. The hotel is 3-4 blocks from the city center where many of our meals take place. This is also where our city tour begins. Birkenau is roughly 400 acres and we walk through this camp twice. The Salt Mine tour includes a lot of stairs as we tour this World Heritage Site. Please be prepared to walk a lot!
Is this trip emotionally taxing?
It can be. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity of the 20th century, and we are visiting authentic sites and locations in order to learn first-hand of the atrocities that took place here. We do take time as a whole group to reflect upon what we are seeing, but also what we can learn from the Holocaust in order to make the world a better place today. Oftentimes, travelers like to journal as sometimes the emotions are very complicated; for example, Auschwitz can be described as a beautiful campus-like environment.
When does my passport need to be valid?
The passport should be valid for six months after the conclusion of the trip, so through December 26, 2022.
What clothing should I pack?
The itinerary is set and will not change due to weather. So please pack for both rain and hot sunshine. Having a light layer might be nice in the evening. Also please bring shoes that are very comfortable. We recommend a hard sole as the Auschwitz and Birkenau paths are rocky.
What technology is needed for the audio tour?
You will need a smartphone and a free downloadable app. You will not need an international plan or data to run the app, but you will need GPS location services turned on. You will also need headphones. Depending upon your phone, you may want to bring an external battery to keep your phone charged.
What does the fee cover?
Hotel, air and ground transportation, entrance fees, tips, meals except for two lunches and two dinners, guides, and trip t-shirt.
How much money should I bring?
The trip is mostly inclusive. You will need two purchase four meals and souvenirs. The Polish zloty (pronounced zwoty) exchange is anywhere between 3-4 zloty per 1 US Dollar. There are ATMs conveniently located to exchange or Kantors to exchange once we get into town. It is recommended to not exchange at the airport. It is also very easy to swipe a credit or debit card.
Auschwitz Trip Q&A with CANDLES Staff