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Dear Diary:

27th July 2007  -  Kraków, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Warsaw (Poland)

My first stop in the West was the lovely city of Krakow. It was once the seat of power for the Polish royal family and when The main Square of Krakówyou wander around the main square you can imagine some stuffy old A nice site when just outside of Krakówbag walking some corgis I guess! I wonder what Royalty would think of all the backpackers that now stay here!

If you do a full lap of the old fort next to the river, you get to wander past an actual fire breathing dragon! I noticed a Kraków's Dragon!small group of people seemingly waiting in the dark next to a statue. They seamed harmless and before you knew it, my few minutes of waiting were rewarded with fire. It looks very cool!

From Krakow I drove to another memorial of World War II, the village of Oświęcim. It is perhaps better known by its German name, Auschwitz. In short, it was the location of one of the Auschwitzbiggest Concentration/Death Camps the Nazis set up. There is not actually one single camp here but three and don’t even think about it, pay the money and do a guided Arbeit Macht Frie - Work Makes You Freetour.

Initially you are taken around the Auschwitz I camp. Just as in Dachau outside Munich, the entry gate has the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frie” (Work Makes You Free) above it. I’ll not retell the stories told, but sufficed to say, they are not for children or the faint hearted.

Photos of what the camp looked like during its use dot the As it was...Todaybuildings to paint a very real picture of Rudolf Hess  was hung herewhere you are walking. That said, one of the things to really catch my eye was the actual gallows used to hang Rudolf Hess the commandant of the camp and primary perpetrators of the so called “final solution”.

From Auschwitz camp I, a free buss will ferry you to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is the camp with the iconic building whose image you may be familiar with. Standing outside its gates Auschwitz-Birkenauon the rail tracks, you can see the guard towers disappear into the distance in both directions and you realise just how big this camp was!

Once on the other side of the gate, you walk down the Auschwitz-Birkenau's marshaling areamarshaling area where the trains were unloaded. Again there are photos from the war on display at various places so you get a better idea of what it war like during the war. From there you In side one of Auschwitz-Birkenau's hutscan walk into a number of the huts where the prisoners where housed. In some cases, these huts held in the vicinity of 800 people! When you are standing in one, you can only try an imagine just how packed that would have been

From the huts you can walk to the remains of two of the One of Auschwitz-Birkenau's CrematoriaCrematoria. These were blown up by the Nazis as the Russian approached in a last ditched effort to hide what had been going on. Again photos of what you’re standing in front of can be found.

Finally, in between the two demolished Crematoria looking back The memorial to all of those that perished.over the marshaling area is the memorial to all of those that One of the Crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau's back in its dayperished. I’m glad I came to see it for my self. Its not everyone’s cup of tea, but I certainly got something out of my visit.

If you want to do some extensive reading on this World War II Death Camp, click here for the Wikipedia entry as a start.

Click here if you want to see some the video I took during my visit


After completing my tour of the Camps, I hit the road to the capital of Poland, Warsaw. I crashed at one of the local hostels and wandered the streets during the evening. WarsawThe old quarter is lovely, but I must concede that Kraków is much nicer. But hey, Warsaw is a big city and if you in the area, its worth a stop for a weekend.

Click here to see my video view of Warsaw!

Flag time!Who else would you spot on a mag here in Warsaw!!!!

Of course, I took time out before hitting the road to collect my Polish national flag. See ya next time Poland!

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