Most visitors start at Auschwitz (daily 8am–dusk; guided tour 40zł, non-guided visits free; English-language tours depart on the hour 9.30am–3.30pm), which is 3km west of Oświęcim town centre. From May to October participation in guided tours is compulsory between 10am–3pm, so if you want to visit the Auschwitz site on your own, arrive outside these times. Once beyond the entrance gate (bearing the notorious cast-iron inscription Arbeit Macht Frei), the site consists of a series of red-brick barrack blocks, many of which contain a museum display relating to a particular aspect of the camp or a particular nation whose citizens were deported here. Block 13 contains an account of Europe’s Roma and Sinti communities (an estimated 20,000 of whom died here); block 5 contains rooms full of spectacles, prosthetic limbs, pots and pans, all confiscated from inmates of the camp and abandoned here when the Germans retreated. The prison blocks finish by a gas chamber and a pair of ovens where the bodies were incinerated.

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