Despite learning about the Holocaust from a very early age, nothing quite prepares you for a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. To stand at the spot where a doctor (a doctor) decided, with a flick of a finger, who would live and who would die is truly numbing. Our group walked through the guided tour in almost complete silence, the sheer industrial scale (and methodology) of the atrocity weighing upon us. It ended at a wall of photographs. Families, children, glamorous young women and proud young men with their chests puffed out. Most of them were beaming – and most of them were probably dead within an hour of arrival.
Everyone needs to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau. I’m so grateful to the MPS and Holocaust Awareness for allowing me the opportunity to visit and to put things into perspective
Saturday September 8th 2019
Auschwitz. A place that I have visited a number of times.
This time was different!
The opportunity to revisit came when my daughter and son-in-law expressed a wish to visit.
Dates were tight, and they asked if I wanted to accompany them. Without hesitation I said “yes”.
They had found a reputable company from the Trip Advisor website, (which had some nice reviews) and we were picked up from our hotel right on 8am as agreed.
We shared a very nice minibus with a charming driver and two other families, as we headed out on the hour-long journey towards Auschwitz.
Here is where I felt let down.
On arrival the queues were horrendous. We waited around for about an hour in the rain outside the entrance with hundreds of other visitors, before we met our very knowledgeable guide and headed through security and into the site.
Here we were herded through at breakneck speed.
We saw three of the huts in Auschwitz, constantly being asked to hurry up as “there is another group behind us”, before being taken to see the gas chamber.
Bang! The tour was over
Back on the coach to nearby Birkenau where we walked along the infamous railway line to be shown one of the destroyed gas chambers.
We then walked back alongside the railway to one hut – The `death hut`, close to the camp exit, before having our trip come to an end.
We spent about 45 minutes at Birkenau.
Although numb from what I had heard and seen, I felt very disappointed.
Why? I hear you ask.
All of my previous trips have been with KahanTrave.co.uk
The trips arranged by Chuni Kahan were a totally different experience, seeing much, much more of both sites in what can only be described as a truly professional trip. The personal attention given to each guest makes these trips what they are. Special!
Having experienced a trip from another provider, I can only say that Kahan Travel have got it right.
If you are considering visiting the Auschwitz camps you will find no better company to book through.
Others may be cheaper but I challenge you to find a better tour than with Kahan Travel.
Thank you so much for taking us. As you said, it has taken a few days to sink in and think about where we have been and what we have seen. I have read so many books but nothing is quite the same as seeing those famous railroad tracks and entrance with my own eyes.
You made the trip so interesting and emotional. I found pages of my dad’s family name in the memorial book. That was so very emotional gor me. I only wish he was here to tell in person.
Thank you so much for everything
The trip was brilliantly organised and was a profound and deeply moving experience, which will remain in our memory and meant that if all we could was visit these terrible places, we were at least able to bear witness and tell others, to encourage them to make this journey to see Jewry's terrible fate at the hands of barbariansWe can only hope that the rise of anti-semitism in Europe will be opposed by right minded people 'though the signs of this are not too evident as anti Israel bias is merging with something more insidious!
Earlier this month I travelled to Auschwitz in Poland as part of a yearly Holocaust awareness campaign. It was a fleeting visit, but horrifyingly, I may have spent longer alive at the camp than the majority of those who were sent there by the Nazis. I have visited a concentration camp before, but that was on a school visit as a child, and now that I have children of my own I felt a new sense of horror at the unspeakable crimes that were done to humans during the War. All of those on the visit had their own background and their own reasons for going; and I imagine that the visit will have impacted people in slightly different ways. What we all had in common though was the utter repulsion we felt at what had taken place at Auschwitz.
Three strands of thought ran through my mind throughout the visit and since:
- How could an educated and modern society be manipulated en masse to take an active (for some) or complicit (for many) role in the extermination of a number of communities due to relatively small differences… Is any modern society immune to such radicalisation in the future…
- How could individuals possibly reconcile within themselves pre, during, and post carrying out such horrendous crimes against young children, pregnant mothers and the elderly – those who pose no military risk – while seeming on the outside to be ‘perfectly normal’ moral beings…
- The speed at which the plan was conceived, brought into motion, and carried out with extreme efficiency without modern technology was astounding. Why can’t we bring ourselves to work as fast and hard at doing good compared with those who do evil…
WW2 ended almost 80 years ago and although we would like to think that we will never again as a world commit such atrocities, clearly many times since there have been cases of genocide and there will inevitably be more cases to come. I believe that we all have a moral duty – by virtue of being part of society – to do our part in calling out human rights abuses wherever they arise, and ensuring we don’t ourselves slide into becoming a society that ends up committing such abuses for the ‘greater good’.I highly recommend the visit it will change your outlook on life
I can’t speak highly enough of Chuni and the local guides who walked us through our visit to Auschwitz, the depth of knowledge and the thoughtful way the story behind these horrific camps was presented was fantastic. I’d happily recommend this tour to anyone.
This trip was a culmination of many years of study into both 1930’s Germany and the Holocaust, though I had mixed feelings about how I’d react to the camps, I’m so pleased I went. The walk down the side of railway tracks towards the rear of Auschwitz Birkenau, heading to what remains of the gas chambers was so very emotional. I thought I knew many of the horrific details of what took place here, but I learnt so much from the wonderful local guides.
I think the Holocaust is so important to learn about, largely because it was humans that committed these acts, the lesson that there is good and evil in all man, should not be forgotten. Very few places in the world demonstrate this more clearly.
Thank you so much.
I visited Berlin a couple years back and thought I’d learned all there was to know about the Holocaust. I was wrong. Being in a place where so much devastation has been caused to so many, focuses one’s mind on the unspeakable acts committed through sheer hate. The overwhelming emotion you feel when you are standing in a gas chamber that took the last breath of millions of people is harrowing. When you see piles of shoes taken from children who perished can’t help but send a chill through every moral fibre. We owe it to those in our past to speak about it in our future and this experience will stay with me forever. I will think about it when I am talking to communities about living together cohesively and when I am speaking to victims and survivors whose lives have been torn apart by hatred. This was more than a trip; it was an opportunity to learn from our own empathy that we should celebrate that which unites us and condemn that which divides us.
Visiting Auschwitz has been an emotionally life-changing experience. The trip, led by Chuni Kahan, was inspiring and the guides had a wealth of knowledge. Every aspect of the trip was well considered and organised.
This is a trip that everybody needs to take.
My students have not stopped talking about the trip since returning, to any one who wants to listen or not! We spent the majority of one lesson (supposed to be Russia revision) discussing what we had seen and how we were all feeling. The students are due to give an assembly to the rest of the Year 13s and they are going into a senior leadership meeting to share their stories. We feel that is imperative that they share with those in more senior positions so that they see the value of these trips in the future, when we are allowed to travel again. From my perspective, thank you for organising such a fantastic trip. It is strange to hand the whole planning and leading of a school trip over to someone else after planning so many myself. On this occasion, I was delighted with the preparations and the leading on the ground. I have, verbally, recommended your trip to many others who have not been to Auschwitz before, as it was so well done. All the little aspects, like bagels, lunch bags and snacks were so appreciated and kept everyone going. Everything you and the other guides did was so kind and respectful to all those who lost their lives or had their freedoms robbed under such an oppressive state. I, along with the students, are still coming to terms with what we saw and heard from the guides. This experience will stay with all of us, I believe, forever. Having taught the subject numerous times, the scale really hit home for me.
Thank you so much for leading us and all of your expert knowledge.Isabel
I can’t recommend the Holocaust Awareness trip highly enough, I wasn’t 100% sure how I would react or what exactly to expect. It did not disappoint, it is an honest, respectful (warts and all) experience which has been life changing.
I went through a range of emotions and thoughts in less than 24 hours (anger, sadness, shame, respect, hope). I suspect it will take quite some time to REALLY process what I just witnessed.
Pin your ears back and pack tissues as this truly reveals the horrors that intolerance breeds. The importance of speaking out against wrong doing, talking about difference, the need to educate self and others around difference. I will take this experience forward into my work and everyday life and never forget what I have seen or the people that suffered/were murdered.
Even more importantly as a human being the need to be tolerant of others, value diversity, difference to make sure atrocities like these are never repeated. Thanks to Chuni and Anna ;-)
We were lucky. We walked through the gates of hell and were able to walk out safely some time later. May those who were not be of blessed memory. We will not forget them.
I have always wanted to visit Auschwitz due to family history, I have Roma Gypsy heritage and my Grandad was one of the British soldiers involved in the liberation. My birthday happens to be 27th January and I have always felt an affiliation, so it has always been something I had to do!
The experience was both harrowing and life-changing and visiting these places in 34 degrees and having the urge to whinge about heat and exhaustion bought a whole new level of self-reflection. I learnt about the Holocaust in High School History as most people, but to visit the site and see and hear of the conditions these people were succumbed to was truly shocking! The reality of the horrors became just that, a reality! - I will forever be grateful and humbled by the experience and recommend it to every person even if just to grab a new lease of life for everything we are so so so lucky to have!
A massive Thank you to Chuni, The Chesterfield Trust and the rest of the guides for a truly memorable experience!
Kindest RegardsAimee Clayden
Huge Thank you to Chuni and the Team for organising these tours, and providing an important insight into the Holocaust. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the atrocity until you have seen the Auschwitz Concentration Camps with your own eyes. Only then do you really begin to appreciate and understand the significance. The harrowing consequence of hatred and intolerance. The Auschwitz tours are vitally important in keeping the memory of this awful part of our history alive. Ensuring it remains firmly in consciousness of future generations will hopefully prevent the mistakes of our past being repeated in the future.
I just wanted to share my feelings while they are still fresh.I spoke to you a number of times about the trip but didn't go for it until yesterday.
I must say that you were professional from A- Z and provided everything to a high standard.This trip will stay ingrained in my mind forever. It was just the right amount of time and you packed in a vast amount for one day.
The tour was extremely sad for myself as my great grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz by the Nazis and my grandmother worked in the camps and saw the butcher mengele.I had heard loads of stories and read loads of stories but seeing this was another thing completely. It is very hard to express my feelings in writing but can say that it was a trip I will never ever forget especially seeing the brutality that the Nazis used which is shocking to the core.
I believe that it is a must for all to see this and to never forget what was done 70 years ago.I highly recommend your trips.
Thank you and your lovely guides, drivers, and office team for all the work that goes into such trips. I hope, before too long, we will return with other members of our family.
Lisa, Maurice and Owen Woolf
As you warned us before our departure I have been deeply moved since our trip and have not stopped thinking about what we saw. No matter how much I knew or have read about what happened, seeing it with my own eyes made it real. I would like to thank you for taking my family and I and for your organising and planning everything so well. I will most definitely pass on your details to my friends who are interested in taking such an important trip. Kind regards Sara Prevezer and family