There is here some confusion about taking photos or not.
This is the text from the official website (June 2011):
"Taking pictures on the grounds of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oœwiêcim for own purposes, without use of a flash and stands, is allowed for exceptions of hall with the hairs of Victims (block nr 4) and the basements of block nr 11. Material may be used only in undertakings and projects that do not impugn or violate the good name of the Victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Photography and filming on the Museum grounds for commercial purposes require prior approval by the Museum."
That are the official rules but there are also decency rules.
I was shocked when I saw at the wall of executions between block 10 and 11 at Auschwitz I a woman (about 40) and her daughter asking another visitor to take a photo of them posing and smiling before the Death Wall where thousands prisoners were shot by the SS.
How can some tourists be so stupid to confuse Auschwitz with Disneyland!
Fortunately they are very few.
In the Auschwitz concentration camp it is allowed to take photos only outdoors. This is meant to respect the death of so many people. Auschwitz is a sacred place, although it is not a church or a synagogue.
Please, do respect this prohibition! It is very disturbing to see stupid people take photos with flash or film where it is forbidden while you are thinking of, or maybe crying for the cruel actions occurred in this concentration and extermination camp. Do not take a picture at any cost just to show that you were there!
If you intend to visit Auschwitz II Birkenau during the summer take a drink with you. It is a large area and it can be very hot, and there is no where to purchase a drink. It is a different story at Auschwitz I with kiosks and cafes.
...in Poland. Auschwitz-Birkenau is NOT one of them. These are the infamous railroad tracks which led thousands and thousands of people to their violent death. Whatever country you come from and whatever your beliefs are and even if it's really really sunny and hot: Don't lie down next to them in the grass and try to get tanned. It's just...so...wrong.
I read some warnings about taking children to Auschwitz before we set off to Poland and was concerned.
In the end we talked to our children ages 17, 13, 11 & 7. To the youngest, we explained in her kind of language that there was an evil man (Hitler) who led his people to do evil things and kill lots of innocent victims in wartime. A seven year old will not absorb the enormity of the horrors that took place here, but she will know that it is important to remember the dead and learn lessons from this.
Our older children were prepared for the visit and are glad they came and paid their respects. It gave them a higher sense of what is important in life when they witnessed the suffering that took place. Our 11 year old's best friend is Jewish, so she was especially proud to have paid her own personal respects.
Parents, you know your kids best. You will not be "shamed" for taking them here. The final decision must be yours...
If you come and visit Auschwitz, you´ll face a nightmare. It may look inconspicious, even innocent. so easy to forget about the amount of horror as long as you don´t look to close. The vast green land behind the barbed wire of Birkenau still holds the remains of the ashes of more than a million people murdered here. It´s a cemetary without graves. And the red brick barracks of Auschwitz with all those suitcases, glasses, shoes as the only reminders of those who passed through the gate. It is easy to forget the individual fates behind the huge number of the six million victims of the holocaust. Go see the exhibitions, and some of them will have a face again. The realization of what you see may not strike at once, but days later. Not a tourist attraction, no. But passing a message to those of us who can come and leave again: Never to forget
Oswiecim, known as Auschwitz to the rest of the world, really does open your eyes to the horrors of the Holocaust. They (the tours/tour guides) spare no little detail as they take you through the rooms and buildings, letting you touch the furnaces where they burned the bodies, showing you where they performed medical experiments on humans, etc. Large, blown up pictures line the walls.
This is definitely not a place for children. In fact you have to be 18 to go. On a tour at least.
I went when I was 12. My little brother was 6. It moved the two of us ... him more noticeably then me. You really do want to research this before coming....
Well, it's okay to wander on your own. Even if you are in a group.
If you don't want your money to be worth of, that is.
The entrance is FREE, you only pay for the tour guide, about 30 USD, could be less or could be more, many versions I heard of the prices paid.
Just a reminder that if you lose your group, meaning you want to stay longer at a place to see ghosts maybe, then please don't simply go in to somebody else's groups ! They won't like this.
You might remember your tour guide's face or dress but your tour guide might not remember you ! To avoid misunderstanding, avoid detering away from your group, okay.
For some people without the tour guide, you can wander in & out as freely but you don't know what you look at or maybe don't know where you are in or at.
If you on your own or with your girlfriends or lovers or partners or parents, don't make a stupid habit of making eerie sounds !
This would create unplesantness to some people & just plain annoying !
Respect other people NOW if not what happened to the places/rooms then!
Some parts of the Auschwitz Camp, whether visited with a tour guide or by yourself, are claustrophobic to some people...
We have to line-up, not long maybe a few minutes; but the stench smells & the dark walls, plus the dimly lit lightbulbs would create some unplesantness to some people.
My advice, don't go in if you can't stand this. Ask your tour guide what the situations are like before entering any buildings or underground rooms in Auschwitz Camp.