There are few guided tours of Europe more poignant than a tour of the major sites of the Holocaust—the extermination of millions of people in the 1930s and 1940s. Tours such as this actually exist for the traveler who wants to see a side of European contemporary history that is rarely available to the average traveler.
Guided tours involving Holocaust sites often begin in Amsterdam as many flights from the US end up there first. In Amsterdam, you can visit the historic Anne Frank house that has been turned into a museum of related artifacts. You can also visit the Corrie Ten Boom House, where a Dutch family hid many refugees from German rule. Corrie Ten Boom was featured in the book she wrote, The Hiding Place, which was eventually turned into a movie.
The next logical stop on your tour is the Westerbork Transit Camp and later on, the Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp. Anne Frank died of typhus there and over 50,000 others died there as well. Guided tours of this area will show you what these people went through and will provide you with detailed information about the site’s history.
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While in Germany, you’ll see the Buchenwald camp in Weimar. Besides Jewish prisoners, many political prisoners, Communists and those involved in medicine and the arts were imprisoned there and used for slave labor. Buchenwald was one of the few concentration camps that existed on German soil. It’s a poignant visit but one worth seeing.
Next, many guided tours will take you to Krakow, Poland. You’ll visit the Treblinka train station, one of the few remnants left of the death camp. Treblinka was one of three death camps in which no one actually lived there and all prisoners sent to the camp were killed. On a lighter note, you can see the original “Shindler’s Factory” where some laborers were treated considerably better than their counterparts.
Not a single one of the guided tours devoted to the Holocaust would miss a visit to the infamous Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. Many areas of these camps have been destroyed as they were a poor reminder of the horrible things that happened there but there are several sites left to see and to think upon.
By this time, many travelers on guided tours of the Holocaust run the risk of being depressed by what they’ve witnessed. For this reason, as the tour winds southward again, a stop in Prague, in the Czech Republic, might be a good idea. It’s a beautiful city with castles and lovely architecture to see and explore.
While in the Czech Republic, many guided tours related to the Holocaust will take you to the site of the village of Lidice and the memorial there. It was the site where, in 1942, all male residents of the village were massacred and the remaining villagers were deported before the village was destroyed in its entirety.
Camp Mauthausen in Austria and Dachau in Germany will round out most guided tours involving the Holocaust. Both are infamous camps and are a big part of the history the Holocaust has to show the people of today.