The Polish lands that came under German occupation were divided into two parts. Pomerania, Greater Poland, Silesia, the western part of Lodz Voivodeship, northern Mazovia, and Suwalszczyzna were incorporated into the Third Reich.

In the remaining territories, a General Government was established with its capital in Krakow, headed by Governor Hans Frank, who resided in Wawel.

From the first days of the occupation, German policy towards Polish society was rigorous. It was carried out by the declaration of Heinrich Himmler, one of the leading Nazis, who declared that the extermination of the Poles was the first of the fundamental duties of the German nation and that “the Poles will be wiped off the face of the earth.

They were to be transformed into a community devoid of national and cultural identity, working slavishly for the Germans. One of the methods used to achieve this was the extermination of the elites of Polish society.

Many Polish intellectuals, including prominent figures of science and culture, were murdered in executions and concentration camps.

History written on the walls

Going on a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp located in Oswiecim will take you back to the time when millions of people were killed there. This is not a pleasant trip from which you will return with a smile on your face, but it is a must for everyone. You will learn there the history of the camp, see the remains of prisoners, their personal belongings, the conditions in which they lived, or the famous Death Wall, where the remains of their blood are still present.

How to get to Auschwitz?

When going on a trip to the Museum, it is worth taking advantage of the opportunities offered by KrakowDirect.

A guided tour is more fruitful and allows you to learn more about the history of this place and these people. A trip to Auschwitz from Krakow takes about 6.5 – 7 hours. One of the ways to get to the Memorial is by bus.

The bus stops in Oświęcim near the museum. It takes about 10 minutes to walk. Connections to Auschwitz leave from the MDA station, directly behind the Main Railway Station. 

If the convenience of traveling by train appeals to you, it will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get from the main train station in Krakow to the train station in Oświęcim. The frequency of connections is about one every 1-2 hours.

Nazi crimes in Poland

Crimes committed during World War II as a result of the conscious and planned activity of the German National Socialist Party NSDAP, state institutions and organs, organizations of the Third Reich, and their functionaries.

During the implementation of the German policy of annihilation of Polish society, a significant role was played by the system of Nazi camps, where one million people were murdered. The Germans also committed many cruel crimes in the prisoner-of-war camps.

Historical sources indicate that about 18 million prisoners went through all the German camps (including about 5 million citizens of Polish descent), of whom about 11 million died (including 3.5 million Poles alone).

Prisons were also places of torture and murder, especially: Pawiak in Warsaw, Lublin Castle, Montelupich Prison in Krakow, Radogoszcz in Lódź, Fort VII in Poznań, prisons in Kielce, Ciechanów, Radom, Nowy Sącz, Tarnów, Zamość, Zakopane, Wrocław, and Opole. During the German occupation, the Jews were also persecuted; 1942-44 saw the liquidation of ghettos, sending the Jewish population to concentration camps and mass extermination camps. Overall, the Germans murdered about 2.7 million Jews from Poland.

The gate to the museum

The most famous Auschwitz

The first concentration camp created on German-occupied Polish territory was established in May 1940 on the outskirts of Oświęcim. The main reason for setting up Auschwitz was the ever-increasing number of Poles arrested and the overcrowding of the local prisons. The first transport of Poles suspected of conspiratorial activity arrived at Auschwitz on June 14, 1940, from the prison in Tarnów.

From 1942, the camp was one of the main centers for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question,” where Jews brought from all over Europe were murdered using Zyklon B.

In 1944, during the main period of operation, the camp consisted of three parts: Auschwitz I created in 1940, Auschwitz II-Birkenau created in 1941, and Auschwitz III. Between 1942 and 1944, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp had more than 40 sub-camps where prisoners were used for forced labor for Nazi industrial plants and farms.

The Auschwitz camp has become a symbol of mass terror, genocide, and the Shoah for the world. It is estimated that about 1.1 million prisoners died in this camp, among them: 1 million Jews, about 75,000 Poles, and about 50,000 prisoners of other nationalities.