Scrapbookpages Blog

January 14, 2015

Bringing flowers to Auschwitz — is this allowed?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:52 am

Every day, I check my blog stats to see what search terms have led visitors to my blog.  This tells me what subjects people are interested in reading about.  The favorite search term is “gas chambers.” I have written many blog posts about the Nazi gas chambers, a subject that people can’t seem to get enough of.

Today, I noticed that someone searched for information on bringing flowers to Auschwitz.

Here is the short answer:  If you want to place flowers at the Black Wall in the main camp, you can buy them from a flower shop located there. There is also a book store, at the main camp, where you can choose from a wide selection of books and postcards.

Tourists may place flowers at the "black wall" at the Auschwitz main camp

Tourists may place flowers at the “black wall” at the Auschwitz main camp

International monument at Auschwitz-Birkenau

International monument at Auschwitz-Birkenau is a favorite place for flowers

The flower shop at the Auschwitz main camp is a lucrative business, so there might be a rule that you can’t pick flowers on the roadside and bring them into the camp. There are now 1.5 million visitors to Auschwitz, so that would mean a lot of flowers being brought in by tourists.

Flowers purchase in a flower shop at Auschwitz and placed on the monument at Birkenau

Flowers purchased in the Auschwitz main camp were placed on the monument at Birkenau in 2005

The last time that I visited Auschwitz was in 2005.  I walked from “the gate of death” at Auschwitz-Birkenau, all the way to the International Monument at the end of the road. It was early in the morning, and I was virtually the only tourist there. I wanted to take some photos before the crowds arrived.

When I got to the International Monument, I was horrified to see that the clean-up crew had removed most of the flowers and the votive candles, placed there only the day before. I suppose that this is necessary because each day a new crowd of tourists arrives to place more flowers and candles. With over 1.5 million tourists visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2014, there must have been a lot of flowers left there.

On my visit to the Birkenau camp in 2005, there was no place there to eat. I am not sure if that has changed.  The book store had a few candy bars and one could buy a very small cup of coffee or hot chocolate from a vending machine, but that’s all. I had to schedule my time each day so that I could always eat lunch at the main camp.

In 2005, there was a small snack stand near the entrance to the parking lot at the main camp where tourists could buy a “hot dog.”

Inside the Visitor’s Center at the main camp in 2005, there was a snack bar where one could buy cookies, peanuts, cokes, candy bars, pizza, etc. There were tables and chairs nearby where people could eat. Across the street from the Visitor’s Center, there was a Polish restaurant.

The tour groups do not visit some areas of the Birkenau camp, so I was all alone for some time there in 2005. Fortunately, nothing bad happened to me, and I had no problem finding everything on my own, with the aid of a map which I purchased from a taxi driver on the way there.

On my second day there in October 2005, I  first went to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. I got there at 8 a.m. and went immediately to the barracks buildings which I had not been able to see the day before because of the crowds of people.

There were two British photographers there, taking some serious pictures for a documentary. I pointed out some interesting features in the barracks to them, which they didn’t know about.

The photos below were taken by me in 2005 at the Quarantine camp, inside Auschwitz-Birkenau, near the entrance through the famous “gate of death.”

The Quarantine camp at Auschwitz-Birkeanu camp near the entrance

The Quarantine camp at Auschwitz-Birkeanu camp near the entrance

Inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks

Inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks near the entrance into the camp

A sign inside an Auschwitz-Birkenau barrack building

A sign inside an Auschwitz-Birkenau barrack building

Flowers inside a barracks building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My 2005 photo of flowers inside a barracks building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

From the Quarantine camp at the entrance to the Birkenau camp, I walked all the way to the end of the camp, where the International Monument is located.

As I walked along the road, a small cart, that looked something like a golf cart, passed me. There were four women riding in the cart, stopping frequently to pick up the garbage that had been left by visitors the day before.

I thought about asking these women for a ride to the end of the camp, which is about a mile from the entrance, but I didn’t. It occurred to me that the camp should provide carts for older visitors. A trip around the whole Birkenau camp is about 4 miles.

To sum up, bring flowers to Birkenau if you must, but in my humble opinion, this would be a waste of time and money.