Museum - Memorial at Belzec

Museum - Memorial at Belzec, Bedziemysl

Museum - Memorial at Belzec

Museum - Memorial at Belzec
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leighgg2017
Belfast, UK25 contributions
Silence
Sep 2018 • Solo
I did a bit of research and discovered that there is a train leaving Lublin to Belzec on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer the Polish railways are extremely reliable but I can't provide a link to the national railways polregio website cos Tripadvisor wont let me.
Anyway the last train was on Sunday 2nd September. I was the only person to get off and go to the camp, though several local people were visiting and an Israeli youth group was just leaving. Basically had the place to myself. In photos the "new" Belzec memorial doesn't look very good, in person it is excellent.
There is an extremely good museum and a large Hall of Remembrance. Though there is a road not far and a fairly busy village and railway line, the overwhelming thing I noticed was the silence. Since the area of the camp is largely concrete and stone, the birds do not fly over it and it is very quiet. This I think must have been planned and it makes a very fitting memorial along with the names of the destroyed communities. It is reminiscent of Treblinka but different in its own way.
Like a number of other camps and sites in Poland there are many things still to see in the local area if you know what you are looking for eg: in Belzec the former camp railway garage is still there (seems to be used for drinking these days), the SS house and Christian Wirth's villa.

Incidentally Trawniki is on this railway line and is worth a short stop if you are really interested in this stuff. The site of the old camp where the so called watchmen were trained is still there, it is marked by 2 memorials, one at the back near the original gate and one nearer the railway station. Again various buildings are still here and in use, the exercise yard from the war is now allotments.
An hour will take you round, there are quite a few shops and cafes here and as it is closer to Lublin there are more trains.
Written 12 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Liam G
43 contributions
Very moving
Jun 2017 • Family
It is very hard to understand the magnitude of the destruction that took place in Bełżec.
Although the extermination camp was destructed to the ground they were able to build and extremely rare and moving memorial that enables you to start to comprehend the size of the disaster.
Written 3 July 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

capeman
El Dorado Hills, CA119 contributions
Excellent Memorial and Museum
Sep 2016 • Couples
The Belzec Death Camp was destroyed by the Germans to hide their crimes. There is an excellent museum on the site as well as a memorial to those killed at Belzec. Walking the part of the Memorial that represents "The Path to Heaven" will be an emotional experience.
Written 15 September 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

David I
Northampton, UK18 contributions
To see for oneself
Jul 2016 • Solo
At the age of 70, I took a tailor made trip to Poland through INTOPOLAND to visit the places I have only read about through my interest in WW2 in Europe. Some distance South East of Lublin is the relatively small village of BELZEC (Not to be confused with Belsen in Germany). On the outskirts of this village served by a railway line, the Nazis built their first Extermination Camp (Others were Treblinka, Chelmno and Sobibor.). Trains brought wagon loads of Jews from various parts of Poland and other countries. Only a few wagons were shunted into a siding inside the camp at a time. The surrounding barbed wire fence was camouflaged with fir branches, to prevent ordinary passing train passengers seeing inside. Although passing train passengers would certainly have seen smoke later in the camp's existence. Almost all the incoming Jews were forced to undress and run slightly uphill to a 'shower', where carbon monoxide from a heavy engine ended their lives. Initially bodies were buried in deep pits. However decomposition, body gases and summer temperatures caused some bodies to rise to the surface and it became necessary to cremate all the bodies on multi layer pyres. This extermination camp killed about 500,000 Jews. Some Jews were kept alive for various types of work, sorting clothes, valuables and burying/cremating bodies. Only 3 prisoners managed to survive in some way. The later Treblinka camp was nearer Warsaw and killed around 800,000. The staggering statistic was that each extermination camp had around 24 SS and 120 Ukrainian guards. Belzec is situated about 20Km from present day Ukraine. Many of these 96 SS of the four camps were killed during two uprisings of prisoners (Treblinka and Sobibor), or during anti-partisan activity near Trieste. This included Belzec's first Commandant Christian Wirth.
Until only a few years ago, this mass killing site had no Memorial other than some words on metal gates in a meshwork of metal. Now the site has been transformed. There is an excellent Museum in which one can see the original camp depicted and other artefacts. A wide pathway leads from the entrance flat despite the site being on a slope, so that arriving at a Memorial wall at the site of Gas Chambers one is below ground level. you can return the same way or ascend steps on either side, which give a panoramic view of the site. The main area of the site is covered with stone or slag and one can walk around the perimeter. At the opposite side to the Museum is a representation of a pyre with multi layers of bodies on railway lines with kindling. This extermination site killed the second highest figure of Jews, but is perhaps the least known. It only existed for 15 months or so. At its end like the other Extermination Camps all buildings were torn down and the ground ploughed over. After the War's end, before the area was covered as described, the site was regularly vandalised by locals and others digging for possible valuables. That can no longer happen and the victims have a large permanent Memorial,
Written 6 September 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

JoshPhD
Los Angeles, CA196 contributions
Impactful and Moving
May 2016 • Couples
This museum, monument and site is not to be missed. Although way off the beaten path, the stark devastation is impactful as is the wall of first names at the end of the long corridor / tunnel leading to it.

Take the time to walk the perimeter and see the deportations that took place over ten months leading to 500,000 murders that took place at Belzec over that time.

I recommend that you pick up a guide book at the museum off ice before visiting the monument. Then, after walking through and around the monument, visit the museum.
Written 8 May 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tymek P
Maidstone, UK71 contributions
Thought provoking
Mar 2016 • Solo
I visited Bełzec on a cold but sunny morning in March, after spending a night in Zamosc. Very easy to find - one road from Zamosc, and attracts very few visitors. This is one of the forgotten Nazi extermination camps, but one of the most though provoking. There is a small but informative museum detailing the atrocities committed in WW2 and a 'reflection room' with amazing but creepy acoustics where you can stand and think about what you have seen in the museum.
People (particularly Germans) should be encouraged to visit these places to pay respects and ensure this genocide never happens again.
Written 19 March 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

skottydog
Scotland, UK218 contributions
A frozen piece of hell.....
Jan 2016 • Solo
Haven been at Majdanek in Lublin which has the only original complete gas chamber, and Auschwitz which as a rebuilt gas chamber and of course Birkenhau, I didn't hold must hope for Bełżec as it was empty. However I got the surprise of my life as I found it better than both. Although both the other ones gave me an uneasy feeling at times, Bełzec gave me the feeling of terror the other 2 didn't.

I went with my in-laws from Janow Lubelski, about an hour north west of Bełżec. The whole site was covered in snow, so some of the details were covered, but to be this made it more eerie.

We visited the stack of old rails first, then climbed the steps towards the top of the monument. My father in law and I started kicking off the snow off the metal name plates which give the Polish and Hebrew names of the towns that had deportations to the camp. We didn't stop until we got to Janow Lubelski. But what started the feeling of sadness was seeing the names of towns and villages we had passed through to get there on the memorial.

Janow Lubelski was near the top of the monument, a few steps more and we are at the top of a stair case leading down to where the gas chambers were. It was then the feeling of horror started. It felt as though you were going down to a chamber. The feeling of being doomed with no escape was really powerful. It was the same walking down the 'sluice' through the middle of the monument.

The bare rocks, with the ashes and sand made me think of shattered lives.

The visitors centre was cleverly built. It again made me feel like the inside of a chamber and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.

The displays were excellent, in Polish, Hebrew and English. Very high standard and very informative.

Would love to go back in summer, but I felt the winter and lack of crowds (we were the only 3 visitors at that time) really made it. Auschwitz was really good, but you know the stories, so you are always looking for what you know about and perhaps miss the feeling of evil. Bełżec has nothing so your imagination gets the terror straight away.

Will return.
Written 24 January 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

zippy608
Wakefield, MA2,088 contributions
Why Not See Them Both
Aug 2015 • Couples
We only had one day, but we were determined to visit the 2 death camps that we had missed on our first trip to Poland- Sobibor and Belzec. It was a long day, but we were able to visit and pay our respects to both. Most people recommend doing them from Lublin and that would probably be your best bet time wise, but we left from Warsaw. The drive from Warsaw to Sobibor was approx. 3 1/2 hours and then it was another 2 hours to Belzec. We then drove 2 more hours and spent the night in Lancut. Both death camps are quite remote and close to the Ukranian border so they don't get many visitors. In fact, my review of Sobibor is the first so if you are thinking of visiting please check the review and then you can decide if it is worth the visit. I also want to add that we were there on a Monday so both museum's were closed and we were unable to visit them. That of course would add time if you were trying to do them both in one day.

It is estimated that up to 500,000 people were murdered at Belzec. The memorial is incredibly moving. Another reviewer wrote that if you go "It will break your heart" and it certainly does.
Written 25 September 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

world traveler
Fort Lauderdale, FL172 contributions
Remote location and close to Ukranian border
Sep 2015 • Solo
Should spend 2 -3 hrs here walking the grounds and visiting the museum.
This is a large memorial and you will not see gas chambers or barracks here.
Do not visit by auto crossing the Rava-Ruska border as it has long wait times.
Consider driving from Lublin and staying in Zamosc.
Written 20 September 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Yael023
Tel Aviv, Israel68 contributions
Museum - Memorial at Belzec – A MUST
May 2015 • Solo
Belzec death camp is less known and less visited. The place is far from regular tourist routes. Situated south-east of Poland near the Ukraine border. 2 hours from Lublin.
Belzec was established as one of the first major death camps by German occupation forces and SS for Jews in Eastern Poland during World War II. During only 9 months about 500,000 Polish Jews were murdered by gas chambers, systematically, efficiency and quickly. Then the camp was entirely erased. Victims’ names were not recorded.
The central memorial site - "volcanic lava field" with metal wires is stunning. It gives the feeling of "emptiness", "silence", "ruins". The biggest brother's grave on earth!
In the adjacent museum, opened at 2004, there is an historical exhibition on Belzec death-camp, archaeological survey at the place and Jews life from the area. There are explanation in Polish, English and Hebrew. The museum is small, the display is interesting and we found it one of our "favorite" Holocaust museums. Monument and exhibition is free of charge.
The museum collects information about people who murdered in the camp by trying to reveal their names. The project is called “EVERY VICTIM HAS ITS NAME”. The questionnaire can be downloaded at web site and be sent back through email. Few years ago I gave the name of my grandfather who probably wiped up at that camp. Visiting the museum, I assure that his name is on the "list". We were asked to send old photos of him or his family from that time. And… we will.
Written 21 June 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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