Category: World War II Sites

Category: World War II Sites

Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region

Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region is a fortification system built between 193 and 1944 located between the Oder and Warta rivers in the Lubusz region. It stretches close to 80km between the cities of Gorzow Wielkopolski and Zielona Gora.

Built by Nazi Germany with the purpose of protecting the most vital section of the eastern border of Germany, Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region was a line of 106 reinforced concrete bunkers with 25cm thick walls, steel domes and concrete antitank barriers called “dragon teeth”.

21 of the concrete bunkers were connected by a 30 km network of 40m deep underground tunnels containing railway stations, war rooms, workshops, engine rooms, stockrooms and barracks. The whole network of bunkers and underground system of the Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region were fitted with essential equipment such as lighting, ventilation, plumbing, sewage disposal and communications.

Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region remains one of the largest and the most interesting systems of this type in the world today. It is also one of the largest hibernation sites for bats in Europe. Each year over 30,000 of them winter here representing 13 different species.

Today, the Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region is partially open to the public. Visitors can visit the museum and also choose from five different routes with various levels of difficulty, lengths and duration.

Short Route – This is the shortest of the routes available to tourists. The duration of the trip is 1.5 hours, while the length of the entire route is approximately 1500 meters.

Long Route – The duration of the trip is 2.5 hours, while the length of the entire route is approximately 2,500 meters.

Extreme Route – Depending on the variant, they take up to 3 hours, 6 hours or the longest up to 8 hours of underground hiking.

Surface Route – The option is ideal for people who want less physical effort or do not want to visit the underground routes.

Tours & Experiences

Wroclaw to MRU Private Tour Including Tickets

Detailed information about the routes and prices can be found on the official MRU website

Camp Łambinowice

Łambinowice is a village in Opole Voivodeship, in south-western Poland and was the location of Camp Lamsdorf (later known as Camp Łambinowice); which served as a prisoner of war camp during the Franco-Prussian War, First World War and Second World War.

During World War II, the camp reopened on 3rd September 1939 just two days after the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, initially to house Polish prisoners. Throughout the war, more than 300,000 Allied and Soviet prisoners passed through the gates of the camp at Lamsdorf. The base camp was given the designation Stalag VIII-B.

In 1941 a separate camp, Stalag VIII-F was set up close by to house the Soviet prisoners.

In 1943, the Lamsdorf camp was split up, and many of the prisoners were transferred to two new base camps, Stalag VIII-C Sagan and Stalag VIII-D Teschen. The base camp at Lamsdorf was renumbered to Stalag 344.

In October 1944 soldiers and officers were brought to Stalag 344 from the Warsaw Rising, including over 1,000 women. Later, most of the prisoners were transferred to other camps.

After the Soviet takeover of the area, on 17th March 1945 the Red Army took the camp over and continued to operate it, this time the institution housed German prisoners of war.

A transit camp, run by the Ministry of Internal Security and commanded by Czesław Gęborski (later put on trial for crimes against humanity for his actions in the camp), was also created nearby, serving as an internment, labour and resettlement camp for German Silesians, as a “verification” point for Silesians, as well as a camp for former veterans of the Anders’ Polish II Corps, whom the new communist authorities of Poland saw as dangerous. Out of 8000 internees, it is estimated that between 1000 and 1,500 German civilians died in the camp, mostly by typhus and maltreatment from camp officials. More than 1,130 names are listed in the cemetery.

Currently the memory of the inmates is preserved by a large monument devoted to all the victims of the camp, as well as the Central Prisoner of War Museum, the only such institution in Poland and one of very few in the world.

Tours & Experiences

Lambinowice (Lamsdorf) POW camp – Private Tour from Krakow

KL Stutthof

Stutthof was the first Nazi concentration camp established outside of Germany during World War II, located in a wooded area near a small town called Stutthof (now named Sztutowo) and 34km east of the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk).

The camp was established directly after the invasion of Poland and was initially designated as a civilian internment camp prior to becoming a labour education camp in November 1941 and finally a regular concentration camp in January 1942.

Before the war even began, the German Selbstschutz (ethnic-German self-protection units) had created lists of people that were to be arrested and detained. The Nazi authorities had also secretly started to review suitable locations to establish concentration camps in the area.

Stutthof was the last camp liberated by the Allies on 9th May 1945 and it is estimated that between 63,000 and 65,000 prisoners of the camp and its subcamps died as a result of execution, hunger, disease, extreme labour conditions, and a lack of medical attention. As many as 28,000 of those who died were Jews. Other inmates of Stutthof included citizens from 28 different countries.

The conditions in Stutthof were incredibly harsh, those who were not gassed, shot, clubbed to death, drowned in mud or given a lethal injection of phenol could just as easily die during one of the two typhus epidemics that swept through the camp.

Initially the camp consisted of eight barracks to house the prisoners in addition to buildings for the SS guards and was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. Stutthof was enlarged in 1943 with a new camp constructed alongside the earlier one containing thirty new barracks, a crematorium and a gas chamber, all surrounded by an electrified barbed-wire fence. Stutthof was included in the “Final Solution” in June 1944 and mass executions began assisted by mobile gas wagons to complement the maximum capacity of the gas chamber.

Many prisoners were used as forced labourers working in an armaments factory located inside the camp next to the prisoner barracks or in a Focke-Wulf aircraft factory, which was constructed nearby.

The evacuation of 50,000 prisoners from the Stutthof camp and subcamps began on 25th January 1945. Thousands died marching in severe winter conditions combined with brutal treatment by SS guards. Around 5,000 were marched to the Baltic Sea coast, forced into the water, and machine-gunned. It has been estimated that around half of the evacuated prisoners, over 25,000, died during the evacuation from Stutthof and its subcamps.

The camp itself was liberated by Soviet forces on 9th May 1945, rescuing about 100 prisoners who had managed to hide.

Today, there is a museum at Stutthof. During a tour of the camp, you can see a narrow gauge railway line that runs around the camp, the camp commandant’s villa, kennels, the main entry to Stutthof concentration camp, better known as the ‘Death Gate’, guard towers, barracks, gas chamber, crematorium, the original dual-layer barbed-wire fence and various exhibitions.

Tours & Experiences

Stutthof Concentration Camp regular tour from Gdansk

Stutthof – regular tour of a concentration camp

Stutthof Concentration Camp: Private 5-Hours Tour

Westerplatte

Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk; famous for the Battle of Westerplatte on 1st September 1939, which was the first engagement between German and Polish forces during the invasion of Poland and thus the beginning and the first battle of World War II.

During the aftermath of World War I and the reestablishment of Polish independence, much of the region surrounding Gdańsk became a part of the Second Polish Republic with the exception of Gdańsk itself; which became an independent city state.

At the time, Gdańsk was known as Danzig and was a historically important port city; which had a majority German population. The independent city state became known as the Free City of Danzig; which was nominally administered by the League of Nations but in reality, it became increasingly allied with Germany.

In 1921, the League of Nations granted Poland the right to establish a garrison and ammunition depot close to the Free City. Despite some objections from the Free City, the depot was completed in November 1925 and became operational in January 1926. Westerplatte was the chosen location due to its separation from the port of the Free City by the harbour channel.

Permission to establish the garrison by the League of Nations came with a couple of caveats, namely: the garrison’s size could not exceed 88 soldiers and fortifications could not be constructed.

The establishment of the garrison and depot was always going to act as a tinderbox in the region with the Polish held part of the Westerplatte only separated from the territory of Danzig by a brick wall and relations became further inflamed on 6th March 1933 when the Polish government decided to land a marine battalion at Westerplatte briefly strengthening the garrison there to 200 soldiers.

The purpose of this was purely political in response to recent comments by German politicians about border adjustment and disagreement about management and control over harbour police.

The extra marines were withdrawn on 16th March after protests from the League of Nations, the Free City and Germany and some concessions were made in regards to control over the harbour police.

Over the following years, Poland disrespected the second caveat for establishing a garrison at Westerplatte by constructing some fortifications in the surrounding area. These were not very impressive defences, just five small concrete outposts, trenches, barricades and reinforced buildings. This all led to rising tensions between Poland and Germany and in the spring of 1939, the garrison at Westerplatte was placed on alert.

Germany began its invasion of Poland by dropping bombs on the city of Wieluń in central Poland. Just a few minutes later, the battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish garrison at Westerplatte. A land battle around the garrison followed between Polish defenders and German Marines.

The Polish repelled two assaults that day using just small arms, mortar and machine-gun fire and over the next few days, they were subjected to multiple bombing raids from Junkers Ju 87 Stukas and shelling from naval and field artillery positions. Eventually on 7th September, the Polish soldiers had no choice but to surrender.

Today at Westerplatte, visitors can see the ruins of barracks and guardhouses; one of which has been turned into a museum. A Monument to the garrison defenders was unveiled in 1966.

Tours & Experiences

Westerplatte private tour led by Expert-Guide (door to door)

Westerplatte Private Tour with Car or Cruise Transport

Riese Complex

The Riese Complex was a Nazi Germany construction project from 1943 to 1945 consisting of seven top-secret underground structures located in the Owl Mountains and Książ Castle in Lower Silesia.

The actual purpose of the project remains unclear and Riese remains one of World War II’s greatest mysteries mainly due to a lack of documentation. Some historians suggest that the structures were planned as a network of underground factories and the tunnels below Książ Castle were to house an HQ element, perhaps an addition to Hitler’s collection of reinforced command centres.

Two things are certain, the size of the project was immense and none of the constructions were finished. Only a few tunnels were reinforced with concrete. Project Riese was abandoned at the initial stage of construction and only 9 km (25,000 m2, 100,000 m3) of tunnels were dug out.

A massive network of roads, narrow gauge railways and bridges were constructed to connect excavation sites with the nearby railway stations. In total, some 90,000 cubic metres of tunnels were carved into the mountains, the work involved to do this was strenuous and involved cutting down thousands of trees, building dams, digging reservoirs and drainage ditches, blasting rocks with explosives and reinforcing caverns with concrete and steel.

Seven major access points were constructed to separate tunnel systems at Walim-Rzeczka, Włodarz, Jugowice, Soboń, Sokolec, Osówka and Książ Castle.

To build these giant structures, the Nazis used prisoners of war, prisoners from concentration camps and forced labourers. Many of these workers lost their lives due to disease, malnutrition, exhaustion & dangerous underground works.

Initially, concentration camp prisoners were not used; however a typhus epidemic occurred amongst the workforce in December 1943 significantly slowing down production. Hitler handed over supervision of construction to Organisation Todt, headed by Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect and engineer and around 13,000 prisoners of the camps were put to work, many conscripted from Auschwitz concentration camp.

Interestingly, Albert Speer himself stated that the Riese Project involved some 213,000 cubic metres of tunnels. Today, less than 100,000 are accounted for, suggesting that there are many tunnels and parts of the project still to be discovered. This is technically supported by the existence of narrow-gauge railways and plumbing that appear to lead nowhere, witness accounts also support this account.

113,000 cubic metres of undiscovered tunnels and a lack of documentation as to the purpose of the project has led to numerous conspiracy theories over the years. The favourite is that the tunnels were constructed to hide confiscated Nazi treasure including the famous Amber Room which disappeared from Saint Petersburg and missing gold and art from multiple locations around Europe. An area outside Wałbrzych was the focus of a story about a buried ‘Nazi gold train’ in August 2015 and today, the areas still attracts treasure hunters in search of their fortunes.

Tours & Experiences

Private Round Trip to Project Riese Including Tickets

Majdanek Concentration Camp

Majdanek was a Nazi concentration and extermination camp operated by the Schutzstaffel (SS) during the German occupation of Poland in World War II from 1st October 1941 until 22nd July 22 1944 and was used to kill people on an industrial scale.

Majdanek Concentration Camp was located on the outskirts of the city of Lublin and was initially intended for forced labour. It soon became part of Operation Reinhard, the secretive German plan to exterminate Polish Jews in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland.

The 270 hectare camp was one of the largest of the Nazi run death camps with seven gas chambers, two wooden gallows and 227 structures. Unlike other camps, Majdanek was captured nearly intact due to the rapid advance of the Soviet Army; which did not allow the SS sufficient time to destroy the infrastructure and evidence of war crimes.

The concept for Majdanek originated with Heinrich Himmler who was Reichsführer of the SS and a leading architect of the Holocaust. Originally, the camp was used as a work camp housing prisoners from 30 different countries and Soviet prisoners of war. The conditions at the camp were horrific, of the 150,000 people who were imprisoned in Majdanek, 80,000 died, including 60,000 Jews. Many succumbed to disease, starvation and the forced labour.

During the beginning of Operation Reinhard, Majdanek was re-purposed as a sorting and storage depot for property and valuables stolen from the victims at the death camps of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The gas chambers were added to the camp in September 1942; at which time, Majdanek began to function as a killing centre.

The official estimation of the number of victims of Majdanek is 78,000, of those 59,000 were Jews.

In July 1969, on the 25th anniversary of its liberation, a large monument was constructed at the site. It consists of two parts: a large gate monument at the camp’s entrance and a large mausoleum holding ashes of the victims at its opposite end.

For those of you who are staying in Warsaw, we highly recommend a private guided tour to Majdanek Concentration Camp. Your professional guide will take you into the most interesting parts and tell you everything you want to know about it. Your tour is private so it’s you who decide where do you want to go.

Alternatively, if you wish to explore Lublin in addition to Maidanek, then we recommend a full-day private tour to Majdanek Concentration Camp and Lublin from Warsaw.

After your guide picks you up from your hotel, you will head to the Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, located just outside of the city of Lublin. Originally, it was supposed to be bigger than the infamous Auschwitz and plans were implemented to make it a slave labor source for the creation of a new empire in the east. Here the daunting stories of the premises from your personal guide. After a lunch break, you will have the opportunity to discover Lublin – a beautiful city rich in history, where Western and Eastern Worlds meet. During its golden ages, Lublin was a wealthy city, full of the aristocracy’s impressive palaces, amazing sacral architecture and tenement houses. Found out why it also carries the nicknames “Little Cracow”, “Vienna of the North”, “Little Jerusalem” and decide yourself which one is most fitting for this pearl of eastern Poland.

Visit the Majdanek website.

Wolf’s Lair

The Wolf’s Lair (Wolfsschanze in German) is hidden in thick forest in the Masurian woods, 8km east of Kętrzyn and was Hitler’s main headquarters during WWII. The complex, which became one of several Führer Headquarters in various parts of Central and Eastern Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. A famous attempt to assassinate the Führer took place here on 20th July 1944.

Today, it is 18 hectares of huge, overgrown and partly destroyed bunkers. During World War II, it was a top-secret, high security site surrounded by three security zones and guarded by personnel from the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, Reichssicherheitsdienst and the Wehrmacht’s armoured Führerbegleitbrigade.

The complex was an impressive feat of engineering with a remote location carefully chosen far away from typical aerial bombing targets such as transport routes and towns. 3,000 German labourers were involved in its construction consisting of 80 structures. These included seven bombproof bunkers for the top leaders of the Third Reich with walls and ceiling up to 8m thick.

The security around the bunkers was impressive and included barbed wire barriers, gun emplacements and minefields in addition to some of Hitler’s most war-hardened troops. The camp included an emergency airstrip and a backup airfield 5km away to allow the Nazi Elite a quick exit if the need ever arose. The natural camouflage of the forest was further enhanced with artificial vegetation-like screens suspended on wires and changed according to the season of the year. The Allies did not discover the site until 1945.

Hitler spent a long time in the Wolf’s Lair. He arrived on 26th June 1941 and stayed there until 20th November 1944 with only short trips away from the complex.

Having survived an assassination attempt within the complex in July 1944, Hitler left the Wolf’s Lair as the Soviet Red Army approached a few months later.

The Wolf’s Lair complex was blown up on the 24 January 1945, just three days before the Red Army arrived. The minefield protecting the now ruined bunkers was still active with approximately 55,000 mines and it took 10 years to make the complex safe.

There’s not a lot to see nowadays, but with a little imagination and a site map or tour guide, you will be able to get a flavour of what life must have been like at Wolfsschanze. The structures of the complex are conveniently numbered so that you can quickly ascertain what purpose they served. Number 13 is Adolf Hitler’s bunker; which is now just one wall but Göring’s home, number 16 is in surprisingly good condition.

The full-day private guided tour to Wolf’s Lair is highly recommended. Follow your local guide into the forest to find the Wolf’s Lair, feel the atmosphere filled with historical events and search for the hidden secrets of this big area.

For anyone staying in the capital, the Day-tour from Warsaw to the Wolf’s Lair is excellent. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel and drive with you to the Wolf’s Lair, where you will explore the complex with him or a local guide. After 3 hours you’ll drive back to Warsaw.

Visit the Wolf’s Lair website.

Treblinka Concentration Camp

Treblinka was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. Together with the camps at Bełżec and Sobibor, the camp operated as part of Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Final Solution, so called in memory of Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German SS and police official during the Nazi era and one of the main architects of the Holocaust.

The camp was located in a forest north-east of Warsaw, 4km south of the village of Treblinka in what is now the Masovian Voivodeship.

Treblinka operated between 23 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 and during this time, it is estimated that 870,000 people were murdered there. More Jews were killed at Treblinka than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Treblinka was divided into three parts and was a highly efficient death factory. One part of the camp was for the use of staff and housed workshops, another part was set aside as a reception area for prisoners and the third part was the extermination area.

A narrow alley known as the ‘pipe’ connected the reception area with the extermination area allowing for quick transportation of prisoners to the gas chambers. The extermination area also contained mass graves and woodpiles for the cremation of prisoners.

Unlike other extermination camps, prisoners at Treblinka were murdered almost immediately upon arrival at the camp. There was no tattooing, no huts, no wooden bunks and no forced labour. People went straight to the gas chambers as soon as they alighted from their transport.

Initially, there were three gas chambers at Treblinka with the capacity to asphyxiate 300-500 people per hour. Ten much bigger gas chambers were added in September 1942 increasing the capacity to between 1000-2000 people per hour.

Prisoners arrived in the village of Treblinka by transport trains, each with forty to fifty trucks carrying 6,000 to 7,000 people. From there, they were transported to the camp 4km away by convoys of trucks. On arrival at the camp, men were separated from the women and children and were forced to strip naked.

They were then driven down the, ‘pipe’ into the, ‘bath house’ where they died of gas poisoning within about 15 minutes.

The bodies were initially buried in mass graves but later were cremated on the orders of Heinrich Himmler who was already thinking about how to cover up the genocide. This was also required of the victims that had already been buried, and so the mass graves had to be opened and the bodies burned. The remains and the ash were thrown back into the graves.

The clothes and items left by the victims in the deportation barracks before the ‘shower’ were sorted. Gradually, bankers and goldsmiths were selected from the transports and formed into a commando called the Goldjuden – Gold Jews. Their job was to collect and classify any valuables, which were then vigorously traded by Germans, Ukrainians and the local population.

The first transports to Treblinka came from the Warsaw ghetto. Between the 23rd of July and the 21st of August 1942, a total of 254,000 Jews from Warsaw and 112,000 from other parts of the Warsaw region were murdered here.

Tours & Experiences

Half Day Treblinka Concentration Camp Private Tour from Warsaw with Lunch

Treblinka Concentration Camp, Heartbreaking Tour from Warsaw

Treblinka – Half Day Tour from Warsaw by private car

Treblinka Concentration Camp Tour and Nazi ideology explanation

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz-Birkenau is synonymous with the Holocaust and the largest attempt at genocide in human history. More than a million Jews, and many Poles and Roma, were murdered here by German Nazis during WWII.

Both sections of the camp, Auschwitz I and the much larger outlying Birkenau (Auschwitz II) have been preserved and are open to visitors. Everyone should visit Auschwitz at least once in their lives, it is a stern reminder of the horrors that human beings can inflict on each other and the only way to understand the extent and horror of the place and the atrocities that took place there.

Oświęcim

The Auschwitz extermination camp was established in Polish army barracks on the outskirts of Oświęcim by the Germans in April 1940 and was originally intended for Polish political prisoners. It was then adapted for the wholesale extermination of the Jews of Europe in fulfilment of German Nazi ideology and pursuit of the ‘final solution of the Jewish question in Europe.’

For this purpose, the much larger camp at Birkenau was built 2km west of the original site in 1941/1942, followed by another one in Monowitz, several kilometres to the west.

Most of the killing took place in Birkenau and not Auschwitz. The 175 hectares camp was purpose-built for efficiency with 300 prison barracks housing 300 people each and four huge gas chambers, complete with crematoria. Each gas chamber could asphyxiate 2000 people at one time, and were fitted with electric lifts to raise the bodies to the ovens more quickly and conveniently.

From spring 1942 until the fall of 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over Nazi-occupied Europe. The camp’s first commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there (2.5 million exterminated, and 500,000 from disease and starvation), a figure since revised to 1.1 million. Of the 1.1 million people who were murdered in Birkenau, 90 percent of them were Jews.

Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labour, lack of disease control, individual executions, and medical experiments.

Selections

By July 1942, the SS were conducting the infamous “selections,” in which incoming Jews were divided into those deemed able to work, who were sent to the right and admitted into the camp, and those who were sent to the left and immediately gassed.

Prisoners were transported from all over German-occupied Europe by rail, arriving in daily convoys. The group selected to die, about three-quarters of the total, included almost all children, women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief and superficial inspection by an SS doctor not to be completely fit. Auschwitz II-Birkenau claimed more victims than any other German extermination camp, despite coming into use after all the others.

SS officers told the victims they were to take a shower and undergo delousing. The victims would undress in an outer chamber and walk into the gas chamber, which was disguised as a shower facility, complete with dummy shower heads. After the doors were shut, SS men would dump in the cyanide pellets via holes in the roof or windows on the side. In Auschwitz II-Birkenau, more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day.

Sonderkommandos removed gold teeth from the corpses of gas chamber victims; the gold was melted down and collected by the SS. The belongings of the arrivals were seized by the SS and sorted in an area of the camp called “Canada,” so-called because Canada was seen as a land of plenty. Many of the SS at the camp enriched themselves by pilfering the confiscated property.

The last selection took place on October 30, 1944. The next month, Heinrich Himmler ordered the crematoria destroyed before the Red Army reached the camp. The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in January 1945 in an attempt to hide the German crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. The SS command sent orders on January 17, 1945 calling for the execution of all prisoners remaining in the camp, but in the chaos of the Nazi retreat the order was never carried out. On January 17, 1945, Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility.

Death March

Nearly 60,000 prisoners were forced on a death march toward a camp in Wodzisław Śląski (German: Loslau). Those too weak or sick to walk were left behind. These remaining 7,500 prisoners were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army on January 27, 1945.

Approximately 20,000 Auschwitz prisoners made it to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where they were liberated by the British in April 1945. Among the artefacts of automated murder found by the Russians were 348,820 men’s suits and 836,255 women’s garments.

On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Today, at Birkenau the entrance building and some of the southern brick-built barracks survive; but of the almost 300 wooden barracks, only 19 remain: 18 near the entrance building and one, on its own, farther away. All that survives of the others are chimneys, remnants of a largely ineffective means of heating. Many of these wooden buildings were constructed from prefabricated sections made by a company that intended them to be used as stables; inside, numerous metal rings for the tethering of horses can still be seen.

The Polish government decided to restore Auschwitz I and turn it into a museum honouring the victims of Nazism; Auschwitz II, where buildings (many of which were prefabricated wood structures) were prone to decay, was preserved but not restored. Today, the Auschwitz I museum site combines elements from several periods into a single complex: for example the gas chamber at Auschwitz I (which had been converted into an air-raid shelter for the SS) was restored and the fence was moved (because of building work being done after the war but before the museum was established). However, in most cases the departure from the historical truth is minor, and is clearly labelled.

Museum

The museum contains many men’s, women’s and children’s shoes taken from their victims; also suitcases, which the deportees were encouraged to bring with them, and many household utensils. One display case, some 30 metres (98 ft) long, is wholly filled with human hair which the Nazis gathered from people before they were sent to labour or before and after they were killed.

Auschwitz II and the remains of the gas chambers there are open to the public. The camp is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The ashes of the victims were scattered between the huts, and the entire area is regarded as a grave site. Most of the buildings of Auschwitz I are still standing. The public entrance area is outside the perimeter fence in what was the camp admission building, where new prisoners were registered and given their uniforms. At the far end of Birkenau are memorial plaques in many languages, including Romani.

Buy tickets for Auschwitz-Birkenau: Entrance + guided tour in English

Auschwitz Shuttle

Are you looking for an easy and convenient way to get to Oświęcim and explore the Auschwitz – Birkenau Concentration Camp by yourself? Decide whether you want to choose one-way or two-way transportation and travel in a comfortable bus for about 1.5 hours. Fast, specific and convenient. Choose from a wide range of fixed departure times – Buy tickets.

Ksiaz Castle

The incredibly beautiful and photogenic Ksiaz Castle was built in the late 13th century following the destruction of an earlier stronghold. Over the years the castle has been the home to many noble families including the Silesian Duke Bolko 1 (who built it) and the mighty House of Hochberg. The castle is situated in thick woodlands adding to its majesty and is at the heart of a rumour of a lost Nazi gold train believed to be buried in the vicinity of the castle.

During World War II, Ksiaz Castle was taken over by the occupying German forces and following Hitler’s direct orders, a system of tunnels was constructed underneath the castle and surrounding areas. The construction was one of seven underground structures all developed under the code name Project Riese.

The function of the tunnels underneath Ksiaz Castle remains unclear mainly due to a lack of documentation; however it is likely that they were going to be part of the Führer’s Headquarters network.

The construction of the tunnels within Project Riese was carried out by forced labourers, POWs and prisoners of concentration camps with many losing their lives due to disease and malnutrition.

In 2018, a 1.5km section of the tunnels was opened to the public as a tourist attraction and a 45 minute tour is available.

In true form, the Nazi occupiers deliberately destroyed many of the historic chambers within the castle and after the war, Ksiaz Castle was used as a barracks by the Red Army for a while before becoming largely abandoned. Thankfully, renovation work was undertaken in 1952 to restore the castle back to its former grandeur.

Since the 13th century, Ksiaz Castle has been remodeled numerous times and today you can see a variety of styles within its architecture including Romanesque, baroque and neo-Renaissance.

Visitors today can explore and admire numerous chambers, terraces and the surrounding gardens. The showpiece of the tour is Maximilian Hall with its painted ceiling depicting mythological scenes.

Wroclaw to Project Riese and Ksiaz Castle Private Tour.

See information about other underground attractions in Poland.