In the bleak midwinter
18th January 2006
When we woke on the Wednesday morning we found that the forecast fog, was in fact falling snow.
It was the first fall of snow we had seen and made the trip out to Auschwitz a very long and slow one as our coach struggled along the back-roads in a tail of vehicles moving at little more than 40kph.
See August for information about visiting Auschwitz.
We eventually arrived at the camp and met up with our guide. The tour was very much as I had experienced in August, but the two differences were that we were a very large group, and there were very few people about.
I did feel however that our guide did not seem particularly interested in talking to any of us. I mentioned that I had been there in August, when I know from my previous guide that they were finding it very difficult to deal with the masses, but this one just nodded and walked on.
However the advantage was that, without all the crowds we had a little more time to look at the exhibits and take in what was being said.
On my previous visit it had poured with rain from the moment we arrived at Auschwitz II: Birkenau, and we were all badly soaked. The crowds and the sudden change in weather had left us too short of time to visit the Gate Tower which straddles the railway line.
This time we had a lot of snow and although we got to visit the Tower we were not allowed sufficient time to walk up to the Memorial.
We were told that it was too far and that it was cold. I thought that this was contradicted by the other groups who were walking up alongside the railway lines.
We found the idea that you could visit Auschwitz without visiting the main memorial to the million dead quite astounding.
This did leave me somewhat disappointed and rather ruined for me an interesting visit.
We were within days of the 61st anniversary of liberation and a bit of cold would have been nothing in comparison to the suffering forced upon the prisoners.
However the coach was waiting and we had to be on our way. If I visited again I think that I would be inclined to book again with European Legacy Tours (Directly, or through the Gallicia Museum in Kraków). A little more expensive but more personalised.
Posted : 18 January 2006