The following day we took a guided tour which visited the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps. I am still thinking about or reasons for visiting such a place on our holiday. As much as anything it was on our route, and as we are interested in the history of places we visit, it was too important for us to ignore.
In the morning we spent about two hours visiting the original camp which the Nazis used initially to house Polish political prisoners as well as Jews and other minorities. When that tour was over we took the bus, along with our guide, to the second camp, Birkenau, which was set up specifically as a death camp, devoted to gassing and cremating people on an industrial scale.
The guide's narrative and the exhibits were disturbing, and the visit stirred many thoughts and emotions. The big questions I need to think of are"How did a nation get to the position where its people would allow this?" "Would I recognise what was happening if something similar started here?" and "Would I have the courage to oppose it?".
We ended the afternoon by driving an hour or so to Krakow where we would spend two nights with a full day for sightseeing.
The full Flickr collection of pictures from the trip is here, the pictures from Auschwitz-Birkenau are here.