In 2011, there were 1,405,000 visitors to the grounds of the former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz. This is a record figure in the more than sixty years of the Memorial, which in 2012 will have been functioning for 65 years. What is important, the number of young people who visited the Site grew significantly – in 2011 they were more than a million, that is more than 150,000 than the year before.
“Auschwitz is to the world the symbol of the atrocities and the total, mass extermination of the Jews in gas chambers, carried out by Germans. This is the place of the collapse of European civilization. In a sense this is the place from which a new impulse arose to redefine the way the Old Continent should look like. The growing number of young people, for whom the visit to the Memorial is not only a history lesson but also a lesson in responsibility resulting from memory, creates perspectives,” said Dr. Piotr M.A Cywiński, director of the Museum.
The first ten countries whose citizens visited the Auschwitz Memorial include: Poland (610,000), Great Britain (82,000), Italy (78,000) and also Israel (62,000), Germany (58,000), France (56,000), USA (52,000), Spain (46,000), South Korea (43,000) and Czech Republic (43,000).
“One can see a significant increase in number of visitors from Spain, Poland, USA, and Great Britain. A significant rise in visitors from Spain, Poland, and the U.S. can be noted. The number of visitors from the Scandinavian countries, Hungary, The Netherlands, Israel, Korea, and Italy remains stable at a high level. There was a slight decline in the number of visitors from Germany and France. A decline by one-third in the number of visitors from Japan was noted, certainly a result of the March 2011 earthquake there,” said Andrzej Kacorzyk, head of the Museum's Visitor Reception Center.
More than 750,000 people from 111 countries, or half of all the visitors, came to the Museum in organized groups, and toured the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau grounds with one of 270 guides, speaking altogether 20 languages.
More and more individual visitors take advantage of the possibility of discovering the Memorial in the company of a guide, in specially assembled groups. In 2011 more than 225,000 visitors chose that option.
Almost all the visits cover both parts of the former camp: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II‑Birkenau. „Auschwitz I features space for exhibitions depicting all the functions of the camp at various periods. Birkenau, on the other hand, makes a powerful impression through the immensity and authenticity of the original space. In line with a scenario worked out in the second half of the year with input from various experts, tours of Birkenau begin at the point of arrival of trains carrying Jews from all over Europe to extermination. Next, visitors follow the road alongside the train platforms to the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria. The tour of Birkenau
concludes with information about the history of the concentration camp and a visit to prisoner barracks,” said Kacorzyk.
Also the number of participants in the specialized educational activities and projects organized by the International Center of Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust has grown. More than ten thousand people took part in forms of in‑depth education last year.