Visiting Aushwitz with kids??

Oct 14th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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Visiting Aushwitz with kids??

My wife and I are taking 3 kids (10,13,15) to Poland. How intense is Auschwitz for kids?? I am worried about my 9 yr old and getting nighmares etc.
bcohen is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 11:49 AM
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Crazy idea!! Don't.
logos999 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 12:20 PM
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What would your motive be to show the kids this experience at that age? I can still remember the 'feel of the place and it has been over 10 years since I was there.

Many more other pleasant and interesting things to see and do.
gentlemagician is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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I wouldn't take my ten year old to see it. He shouldn't see that much evil yet.
kleeblatt is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 01:03 PM
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I completely agree. They should go when they know something more about life. You would not let them see a horror film at that age; Auschwitz is worse than any horror film ever made.
Nigel99 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Consider exposing them to a most honorable Pole, Pope John Paul II, who is credited for helping the poles during the communist years with his message of peace and perserverance. He was a major world leader to bring peace and an end to communism to Poland during his tenure. From his roots in Wadowice, to his history with the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, (along with other Polish royalty), should show the kids a more positive view then to burden them with the horrors of one maniac. -They'll get that in school when it will be presented in a more objective scene.No matter what religion or nationality the kids are, the Pope, as a person, was a major factor in the history & influence for the Polish people,(indeed, through the world).and I think it would be more of a benefit to learn a little of the goods that were done rather than the eviis. In any event, good luck & have a great trip.
virgi is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 02:47 PM
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Hi B,

Your 9 yr old is much too young.

It might be suitable for your 15 yr old.

If they were 17, it would be a must.

ira is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 02:55 PM
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Having visited Auschwitz, I wouldn't recommend taking young children to see it.
Katie2 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 03:10 PM
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I've visited twice. I would not take a child under 13-14 to visit Auschwitz. If I were to take a 15 year old, I would be sure he had a decent grasp of the historical context. In fact, I would probably have him or her read some age appropriate young adult fiction or nonfiction geared for his or her age.

The visit is emotionally gruelling enough for adults; be sure to prepare your 15 year old, if it's even possible to prepare oneself for a visit there.

Agree with Ira, though, it is a must for anyone 17 and over.
lucy_d is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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I have not been, however, I was in Vienna last month and a gentleman around 60 was at a table in the breakfast room with two women. The women, one his wife and the other the wife of his friend. They were attempting to console him regarding their recent trip to a former concentration camp, I don't recall which one. I spoke with him later and he said his friend a gentleman of the same age was so "affected" by the visit that he began having what they all thought were "panic attacks" and had been in bed for the two days since their visit. If it was difficult for an adult, it certainly may not be suitable for a child.
Denise is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 03:42 PM
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bcohen, I forgot to ask when I posted earlier, but would your plans include both Auschwitz I, and Auschwitz II/Birkenau? The photographs and exhibits, especially the artifacts (shoes, luggage, clothing, prayer shawls, prosthetic limbs, hair) in the buildings at Auschwitz I are graphic and disturbing to say the least. Existing crematoria, execution wall and torture cells equally upsetting.

Birkenau, to me, and I can speak for no one but myself, was horrific, but not in the same way. The gas chambers and crematoria were destroyed, but the remains are there. A few barracks were rebuilt. Its vast expanse disturbed me the most. There is a nice memorial at the end of the tracks.

Hope this helps. You may want to visit the web site: http://www.auschwitz-muzeum.oswiecim...nie/index.html

Perhaps you have friends who have visited. Their insight may prove helpful.
lucy_d is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:30 PM
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I have not been, but I agree with the other posters. I believe it would be too much for children aged 10 and 13 yrs, and perhaps even 15 yrs as well. IMO children should not be burdened with the evils of adults.

My parents toured Dachau back in the early 1970's. The gentleman leading the tour had been a Lutheran minister and was a survivior of the camp. My mother still gets visibly upset when she talks about it. I could not imagine a child being exposed to something too painful for adults to comprehend.

I would take your family again when your children are older, or go again with your wife alone to tour Auschwitz.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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In l973 ,while we were living overseas ,(Senegal, later Portugal) we drove around Europe for 3 weeks. Daughter, l0, was in camp in Switzerland! Our sons were ages 9 and 11 and while in Munich we drove out to Dachau for a couple of hours. While it might be "milder" I don't see there would be much difference from Auschwitz.
The boys did fine. They did have some questions of course, but it certainly brought to them the truth as to what terrible things happened in WWII, and from a man named Hitler.

There were no lasting effects ....and I think it was not bad for them to see it. We are definitely not "liberal" parents....I think 34 yrs ago things were different and we parents just did not "over analyze" things as parents tend to do nowdays.

If you have a normal 9 yr. old I would think he would be fine.
mari5 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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Chances are that your children will have little adverse reaction to their Auschwitz/Oświecim site visit. I have seen family after family touring the site with children of all ages. You can search the www site and learn if their is an age visitation restriction. Children are curious about such a place beyond anything parents imagine. This an opportunity for all of them to see such a place and learn that it really existed.
GSteed is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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A short anecdote.

We visited the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague.

Ahead of us were two US teenagers who had promised their parents that they would visit the Holocaust Memorial sites.

As the line moved forward, they were laughing a joking about how they had to be there because their folks would want to see the pictures.

After seeing the walls of victims names and the drawings done at Terezin by the children, they broke down.

My wife and some other women had to take them away for a while.

Needless to say, they did not go on to Terezin.

Somewhat teary at the moment.
ira is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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My husband was in high school and got nightmares. I would leave the kids behind if you want to go and let them decide for themselves when they want to see it.
kelliebellie is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 05:33 AM
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I haven't been to Auschwitz but I was at Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem) when I was 13 - my mom went with me and my 9 yr old brother went on a hike with my dad. I had done lots of reading, etc. to prepare for it but it was still overwhelming. I think 9 is definately too young - my brother had a hard time at that age with the smaller Holocaust museum we went to at one of the kibbutzim.

I think it would be a really valuable experience for the 15 yr old and possibly the 13 yr old.
pittpurple is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 08:58 AM
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I was 17 when I toured Auschwitz, and it's a memory that has dimmed very little in nearly 40 years. I did not "break down" or have nightmares, but that may be partly due to the fact that I was very familiar with the death camps. (My first BFF at the age of 5 was the daughter of Auschwitz survivors.)

The day before going to Auschwitz, I met some German kids of the same age who were on a school-sponsored summer tour. When I saw them at the camp, all were in tears and too upset/humiliated/embarassed/ashamed/whatever to talk with me.

I think the 10-year-old is definitely too young to be burdened with this stuff. Whether the 13 and 15 year olds are mature enough is your call as their parent. We don't know them. BTW, I went to Auschwitz on my own, no parents.

Jean is online now  
Oct 15th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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We have a Holocaust museum here in VA, USA. I have not been, but my kids went on a trip with our church. The younger one was 12 and really felt sick about what she saw. The older one was 14 at the time and refused to go in with the group. She complained of having pains in her legs. The group leader called me and said she was obviously not ready to see the museum. I have to say she is my softer child. I would say a lot depends on your kids' personalities. Unless you have family that died at Aushwitz or survived, I see no reason to take children. They have the rest of their lives to learn about the horrible things in life.
girlonthego is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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No need for me to chime in but I agree that taking children to Auschwitz is a very bad idea. I visited 15 years ago as a grown adult and saw the remains of the victims and the facilities. I could have lived without that scene. I can't say it is fitting even for an adult.
hopscotch is offline  

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