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[an error occurred while processing this directive]Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland

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Arbeit Macht Frei, the entrance sign at Auschwitz 1
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arbeit_Mach_Frei_gate_Auschwitz_2012.jpg
authorshipMarcin Bialek
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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Auschwitz Birkenau is a World Heritage Site in Poland preserving the site of the infamous German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. This is the biggest concentration camp built by the Nazi regime. It was here that over a million Jewish people - men, women and children - lost their lives, along with tens of thousands of Poles, Roma and Sinti people (collectively known as Gypsies). It is the most famous Nazi concentration camp from the Second World War.

The Auschwitz Birkenau World Heritage Site preserves the buildings within the complex. This includes the walls, barracks, gallows, gas chambers, railway siding, crematoria, and the infamous gate with the archway bearing the words Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes [you] Free).

Death wall of Auschwitz 1
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Muro_de_la_muerte_de_Auschwitz_I,_Polonia.jpg
authorshipPoco a poco
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In addition to the structures, the Auschwitz Birkenau site also preserves documentation and evidence of the premeditated murders and the systematic mechanism to carry these out. Visitors to the site can look at documents and personal items that once belonged to the victims, as well as how the Nazis made use of these items. Great care was taken to preserve the authenticity and integrity of the exhibits, to provide present-day visitors the grim picture of the harsh reality of the Second World War under the Nazi regime.

Auschwitz I at Stammlager was first established on 7 October, 1941 to house Soview prisoners of war by the Gestapo. The initial batch of 10,000 Soviet men were held prisoners here. The majority died of hunger, over work or were killed by gas or shot to death. Five months later, to contain the increased number of prisoners, Auschwitz II at Birkenau was built.

Crematorium, Auschwitz 1
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crematorium_Auschwitz_I.jpg
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Crematorium memorial, Auschwitz 1
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Auschwitz2010-9.JPG
authorshipPoco a poco
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Gas chamber, Auschwitz 1
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Auschwitz_14.JPG
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The Auschwitz Birkenau site was inscribed during the 3rd session of the World Heritage Committee which met in Luxor, Egypt on 22-26 October, 1979.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: Oswiecim County, Lesser Poland, Poland
Inscription Year: 1979
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: VI

Railway, Auschwitz 2 - Birkenau
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Auschwitz_birkenau_06-04-13_5.jpg
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Guard posts, Auschwitz 2 - Birkenau
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Auschwitz_II-Birkenau_-_Death_Camp_-_Oswiecim_-_Poland_-_03.jpg
authorshipAdam Jones, Ph.D.
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Watchtower, Auschwitz 2 - Birkenau
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Auschwitz_II-Birkenau_-_Death_Camp_-_Trees_and_Watchtower_-_Oswiecim_-_Poland.jpg
authorshipAdam Jones, Ph.D.
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Visiting Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland

Independent visitors can take a bus or minibus to Auschwitz from Krakow, a journey of about one and a half hours. You can also take a train to the town, Oswiecim, from there you catch a bus to Auschwitz, a distance of one kilometer, which you can also cover on foot in about half an hour or less.

Upon arriving at the site, you are ushered to the visitor centre, where you are assigned a tour guide according to the language of your choice. Although you can explore on your own, the visitor centre strongly recommends that visitors follow their guided tours. This is especially so between 1 April to 31 October, when visitor numbers rise. Then everybody's on compulsory guided tour. The guided tours cost 40zl per person.

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