It was 75 years ago this year that the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oświęcim was liberated by the Soviet army. This is an important part of history that many people all over the world wish to commemorate.
Here are just a few different ways you can mark the 75 years of Auschwitz being liberated.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Museum, Oświęcim
If there’s anywhere you choose to visit this year, it should be Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim. This former extermination camp is made up of three different sections and is the place where 1.2 million people died, 90% of whom were Jews.
On arrival, you’ll be greeted by an archway baring the famous words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ that translate to ‘work sets you free’. Look closely to see the letter B is upside-down which is said to be an act of defiance by the prisoner who created it.
Wander around this historical complex and see its various artefacts on a day trip from Krakow, where you can also hire a guide to explain its horrific history.
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, Vienna
Another way to pay your respects is to visit the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna. This monument is located in Judenplatz, a town square in Vienna's Old Town that was the centre of Jewish life during the Middle Ages. Designed by Rachel Whiteread, it’s dedicated to the 65,000 Austrian Jews murdered by the Nazis.
When looking up close, you’ll notice this square of stone looks like a unique library, with rows of book-like shapes making up its design. The double doors at its front are closed and its base has the names of concentration camps engraved on it. Its purpose is to challenge and provoke thought.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague
If you’ve seen several memorials and wish to see something different, why not visit the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague? It’s one of the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds in the world and one of the most important sites in the Prague Jewish Town. When walking around, you’ll discover the oldest tombstone reads 1439 and the earliest 1787.
Its speculated that 100,000 bodies are buried here but only 12,000 tombstones can be seen. This is down to the graves being dug deep enough to allow 12 bodies to be buried on top of each other. Keep an eye out for the many headstones that feature plant and animal motifs, with ivy growing all around.
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
During WWII, Anne Frank was one of many Jews that went into hiding to avoid being taken to a concentration camp. She and her family hid in a secret annexe, at the rear of a 17th-century canal house in Amsterdam, for two years. This house is a museum for tourists who wish to learn more of the war through her famous diary.
Inside, you’ll discover photographs, Anne’s original diary and other authentic objects that belonged to those in hiding. This museum is a different kind of Holocaust museum, allowing its visitors to re-live the life of Anne Frank and her family before being taken to extermination camps. It gives you a different insight into WWII, in comparison to Auschwitz and the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin
Another way to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz is to visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. This eerie Holocaust remembrance site is situated in the heart of the city, not far from the Brandenburg Gate. It’s a place to pay respects and contemplate the actions taken out.
After the German parliament decided to establish a central site, a competition was held to find a designer and Peter Eisenman won. His design features 2,711 concrete slabs, all different heights, creating a wave-like effect and covering a space of 19,000 square metres. Much like the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, it’s open to interpretation with its abstract design and openness.
You can also visit this awe-inspiring Holocaust sight on one of our day tours in Berlin, with an expert guide.
If you wish to visit any of the destinations mentioned above to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz being liberated, call us on 0800 988 3369 or contact us via our website.