Visitor Check-In Process, Security & Film Introduction to Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum
Updated: May 9
My stomach churned as I approached Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. I spent the better part of three decades researching and studying the Holocaust, specifically, Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the people, politics, and events that led to its abominable existence.
Things settled down in my stomach and head when I saw throngs of high school and college students worldwide waiting their turn in line. Seeing these young people from all over the world gave me the hope that we are informing and educating future generations.
It was finally my turn to witness Auschwitz, something I had waited a lifetime to see.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Entrance
Marked with signs in English and other languages, the entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial is just beyond the large sign; there is a length of sidewalk before you enter the Auschwitz I administration building. Once you arrive, check in with the staff out front to confirm your lineup time to enter the grounds.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Visitor Walkway to Entrance
Tour Tip The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial limit the number of daily visitors. You can purchase tickets when you get there, but I highly recommend that you purchase your tickets in advance.
Self-guided tour tickets are free. A guided tour is currently priced at $22-$35 USD. Be sure to take a government issued ID (i.e., drivers license or passport).
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Entrance Gate
(museum staff member in blue coat)
If you need a ticket within a day or two, book your travel through a tour company, as tour operators have access to a reserved portion of daily tickets. Most tour operators will not add surcharges to the original ticket price. Use Viator or GetYourGuide to do that.
Once inside, I admit that the bookstore and coffee shop took me aback. The welcoming area also had seating and restrooms. The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is a solemn place, yet it welcomes thousands of visitors daily. I suspect these minimal-levels of service allow it to care for the multitude of people from all the world that visit there each week.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Cafe and Bookstore
Admissions, Security and Visitor Introduction Video
The staff scanned my ticket at the entrance, and then I waited in line to go through security, which resembled an airport security process (for obvious reasons, I couldn't take photos in the security area). I waited in a holding room with others until it was our turn to see a 10-12 minute introductory film. When Auschwitz first opened as a concentration camp, the Nazis used this room to process political prisoners and prisoners of war.
Waiting Area for Introductory Film
The film thoroughly introduced the camp, some history, and what to expect. The film makes you think about the atrocities at Auschwitz, and for some, it may cause them to rethink their emotional sensitivities before beginning the tour. No one in our group opted out of the tour, but I suspect a slim number do. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial website
does not recommend the tour for children younger than fourteen (14).
Post-Film Waiting Area for Guided Tours
There is a waiting area outside the film auditorium for visitors to connect with their tour guides (it is outdoors). The first picture shows the original kitchens, the second is the prisoner path leading to the camp, and the third shows the camp entrance in the distance, with the gate containing the infamous slogan, “Arbeit Mach Frei” or “Work Sets You Free.”
Path to Camp (and Prisoner) Entrance
Camp Entrance Gate and
"Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free) Sign
What to Expect in Future Posts about My Experience at Auschwitz I
I will write about my tour of the Auschwitz I camp, artifacts, exhibits, barracks, prison, hospital, execution wall, Rudolf Hoss’ hanging site, the gas chambers, and crematorium.
I will write these posts chronologically, as I experienced the tour from start to finish, and add some history and backstory along the way. Expect a series of posts; the Auschwitz I series will conclude with the tour’s last stop – the Auschwitz I crematorium.