Auschwitz. It is a name that is synonymous with pain, suffering, horror, murder and the Holocaust. It is a name that can fill you with fear instantly and there are not many people around the globe that don’t know its name. So is visiting Auschwitz with kids and teens a good idea?
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We took our two daughters to Auschwitz-Birkenau after they had asked to visit during our trip to Poland. Both have done lots of reading about WWII and it was a place they remembered us visiting without them on a previous visit to Poland. It was a decision that took a lot of thought on our behalf and many more hours of talking with them.
In this post, we will cover the most frequently asked questions about Auschwitz that we had after we visited Auschwitz with kids and try to answer all you will need to know to support your kids at Auschwitz the best way possible.
Visiting Auschwitz with teens
If visiting Auschwitz with family is something you want to do you need to make sure you have an open conversation with your kids about the visit.
The more you talk about it the more you will be able to gauge what information they can handle and what you may have to look out for. A visit to Auschwitz is an emotional experience for adults let alone kids, teens or older children.
Resources for preparing for your visit to Auschwitz with teenagers
If you are visiting Auschwitz with teenagers you may find doing some research before you go to be invaluable. We found that talking as a family with our daughters was a great way to prepare them a small amount. Below are some of the resources we used before we visited Auschwitz with kids.
Books on Auschwitz
Our daughters both found teenage appropriate books in their school libraries. Some were stories from survivors of Auschwitz Death Camp and there were some general WWII books that had references to what happened in the concentration camps during the war.
Some of the books were:
We found that books on Auschwitz that were aimed at young adults that were non-fiction or based on people were the best for the girls to read. They had a lot of extra information in them and much more emotion than a fictional book.
Documentaries on Auschwitz
We found many documentaries on Netflix, SBS, ABC and other channels that we found were appropriate for them to watch but we did watch them with the girls. We could answer questions and then talk about what we had seen.
These also gave them a stark look at the horror that they would witness.
Some documentaries we watched were:
- World War II in colour
- The Hitler Youth
We decided not to watch movies like Schindler’s list or Boy in the Striped Pyjama’s with the girls before we left for the visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. They have both decided that they are not ready to watch them now.
Internet searches for Auschwitz
We found that we could research any of the information that we wanted easily on the internet. We also found that there was a lot of confronting and differing views on here. Some were not age-appropriate for our daughters which at times did lead to heavy conversations.
If you are going to research on the internet please make sure that you are visiting an accredited site that is giving you the correct information for you to discuss with your teens prior to your visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Some sites we used were:
Visiting Auschwitz with kids
On both times we have made a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau there have not been a lot of smaller children at Auschwitz with family. There were a couple of very small children in prams and a couple in wraps on their parents but at no time did we see small children wandering around Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
If you do need to take your younger children there are not many places for them to wait if a building you want to go into is not appropriate for them to enter as well.
We found that even located near a town it was an extremely quiet place. You may have to rethink your visit to Auschwitz or maybe even visit on different days if you are able to and leave your little ones with the other parent or family member while you go there.
I found myself completely absorbed in my emotions the first time we went and I am glad I did not have my young children at Auschwitz with me at that time.
For young children who are unable to comprehend what happened there, you may find that they are ok with a visit. There are rooms with shoes, luggage, pots and uniforms but not many graphic scenes are depicted. If there are you can easily identify them and not enter the room with your children. Much of what is on display is people’s actual belongings, things that belonged to someone who had no idea what was going to happen and that is such a different level of emotion.
Making a booking to visit Auschwitz
You can book tickets to the Auschwitz Birkenau memorial site on the official website or you can book a variety of day tours from places such as Krakow and Warsaw. There are so many Auschwitz tour packages available so take your time in selecting what is best for you.
Visiting Auschwitz with a guide
If it is your first visit to Auschwitz a guide is an amazing way to learn what actually took place at the concentration camp.
They are normally in groups of 20-30 people and you are given a headset to wear and the tour guide speaks into that as you walk through the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Auschwitz ticket prices with tour
|3.5 hour guided tour for adults||$23 USD||€ 18.90|
|3.5 hour guided tour with concession||$19.80||€ 16.67|
You can organise a guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau through the website or if you are needing to visit Auschwitz from Krakow or another city you can organise a day trip to Auschwitz that includes a guided tour.
Did we visit Auschwitz with kids on a tour?
We decided not to do this kind of tour with our daughters as visiting Auschwitz is such an emotional journey we were worried that at some point we would have to leave the tour and we did not want to distress or interrupt other people’s experience during the tour.
Visiting Auschwitz without a guide
It concerned me that many people visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial without a guide and many of the horrors here are lost on them. Some places in the camp need a person to explain to you why it is a significant place, what happened and without a guide at Auschwitz that can be difficult.
A self-guided tour of Auschwitz we believe is a good option for families with older kids. It gives you the option to go at your child’s pace and you can control some of what they will see.
There are plenty of signs around the camp that will describe what happened in certain places and significant sights. They are very explanatory and are very well written.
In most of the buildings, there is a lot of information about what happened at the camp and in certain rooms.
Should I visit Auschwitz with kids?
Only you know your child, what their level of comprehension is about visiting a concentration camp. While we can give you the best of what we did you need to keep in mind you need to do what is right for your family when visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Tips for visiting Auschwitz with teens
There are so many tips for visiting the Auschwitz Memorial we can think of and so many things you can do to prepared. Here are some of our top tips:
- Talk about the visit to the concentration camp before and after you go. The more you talk the more you can see into how it is affecting them
- Do some research before you go. This post is great and we have another emotional piece that you can read here.
- Take your time. Don’t plan to rush through but do plan to leave if you need to as well
- Organise dinner or lunch after your visit. We found this a great way to sit and talk about what they had seen after the visit. You may not eat much but it gives you a chance to talk.
- Emotions are funny things. Let them express what they feel as much as they can
If you’re looking to visit Auschwitz from Krakow we have all the best options by bus, train, car and tour. Read our Krakow to Auschwitz article here.
General top tips for visiting Auschwitz
We found that our visit was highly emotional on both trips to Auschwitz and completely different.
The first time we went was just the two of us and then the second time was with our daughters. While both of the visits to Auschwitz were different there were some things that were the same.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes before your allocated time, especially if you are self-driving to Auschwitz. This will give you time to park the car, get through security and find your guide if you are on a tour
- Make sure you have a form of identity for all people that you have booked tickets for. They must match the name on the booking and you need it for the kids as well.
- Do not bring anything with you like pens, textas, markers and large bags. Your bag will be searched on arrival and any items that are nor appropriate will be taken from you.
- There are places outside of both Auschwitz and Birkenau where you can purchase something to eat and drink but not within the camp.
- Parking at Auschwitz costs 6 euros and parking at Birkenau costs 8 euros.
Should I visit Auschwitz with kids – Our opinion
Our visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with teens is still something we talk about a lot and something that we are asked about a lot. We did a lot of talking with our daughters about what they would see and witness while we were there.
Mark and I had visited Auschwitz previously and we were able to use some of that insight to help our daughters with what they would see. I believe this helped us immensely.
In the end, you know your children and your teens and only you can make the decision on what they can handle. They will be in a place where millions were murdered, there are pictures and there are sights that will stay with them.
How did our daughters feel after the visit to Auschwitz?
When I asked the girls what they felt they said they felt heavy. Heavy hearts, heavy mind and heavy thoughts and I thought it was a very fitting way to explain how being in Auschwitz feels. The thoughts that you are having make your whole body heavy.
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How to visit Auschwitz with kids
There are so many options on how to visit Auschwitz but it will depend on the amount of time you have and what you believe your kids can handle.
Organised tour to Auschwitz from Krakow
For some that are not confident driving in Poland, this will be the perfect way to get from Krakow to Auschwitz.
Self driving from Krakow to Auschwitz
This may be the best way if you are confident about driving. This will give you the freedom that you and your children may need with a visit to Auschwitz.
Self-guided day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz
There are also tours to Auschwitz where the company will guide you to the concentration camp and from there you will make your own way around the Auschwitz Memorial.
Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration camp in the summer
The Auschwitz Concentration camp is a hot place in the summer. The brick buildings will hold a lot of the heat and then there are other parts that are not shaded at all. It is kept as it was as much as possible so these modifications would take some things away from how hard this environment would have been on the prisoners held there.
A visit out to Birkenau will be just as hot. There is no shade and minimal places to stop and rest especially if you are on a tour.
Visiting Auschwitz in winter
As the summer months, the winter at Auschwitz will be just as extreme. While there is heating in the buildings at Auschwitz the camp at Birkenau is open to all of the elements. You need to make sure you have all of the correct clothing to visit Auschwitz in winter.
There are so many things that you need to consider when you plan on visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp. We hope that our trips to Auschwitz give you some idea of what to expect and some things to consider before you go.
Visiting Auschwitz from Krakow tips
If you are making a day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow make sure you can easily get to your tour company pick up point for your day trip to Auschwitz.
Where to stay when visiting Auschwitz
As we were self-driving we found it much easier to stay in the nearby town of Oswiecim. We had a hotel room around a 7-minute drive to the camp.
There are plenty of places to stay in Osweim whether it be a hotel, hostel or apartment. Make sure you are booking what is needed for your family.
We hope this post from us here at Wyld Family Travel has given you some helpful information on what to expect when you are visiting Auschwitz with kids and teenagers. Visiting Auschwitz is a very emotional journey and one that many people find difficult to handle. With this post, we hope we have given you some of the tools you may need if you visiting Auschwitz with family.
Travel with teenagers and tweens. Travelling with older kids has just as many issues as travelling with younger kids. Choosing the best teenage vacation destinations can be so time-consuming. Use our Travel with Teenagers Destination Guides from all over the world for your next family vacation inspiration to make your family vacations with teens epic.
Rebecca WyldAuthor Bio:
Mother, wife, traveller to over 45 countries across 3 continents. When I am not mothering my teenagers and my husband, yes my husband I can be found working in community services. I love nothing more than checking out a museum or eating at local restaurants in any country we visit.