Europe

Auschwitz 'may turn away people' amid record visits

File photo of the former German Nazi extermination and concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Brzezinka near Oswiecim December 10, 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Over 250,000 people visited the former Nazi concentration camp in January-March this year

The former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz is attracting so many visitors people may have to be turned away, staff there have warned.

The site, now a museum and memorial, saw a 40 per cent increase in visits in the first three months of 2015, compared with the previous year.

Staff advise people wishing to visit to book in advance online.

More than a million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland, during World War Two.

"We already see that on particular hours, long waiting may be necessary in order to enter the former camp," said Andrzej Kacorzyk, the museum's deputy director.

"If the attendance continues to grow in such a dynamic way in the months to follow, it may result in the fact that not all persons willing to enter the former camp and learn about the history of Auschwitz in its authentic space will be able to do it."

This year the death camp marked 70 years since its liberation by Soviet soldiers, a possible explanation for the surge in visitors.

But attendances had already been growing, with a record 1.5m people visiting in 2014.

The news came as a former Nazi SS guard at the camp began the second day of his trial on charges of being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews.

Oskar Groening, 93, has admitted he was "morally" guilty but said it was up to the court to decide whether he was guilty under criminal law.

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