Today we traveled around krakow and saw a lot of sites from Schindler's List which was really cool to see where some of the sites were filmed, such as the stairwell some had hid when the ghetto was being liquidated. Also the actual area that was being used as the ghetto. We also saw Schindler's factory, which was nice to see where this historical place was and where everything happened in real life. We also saw where Amon Goeth's villa was in real life, which is being turned into a luxury villa which does not seem right at all. I mean this guy was brutal, and now this place is gonna just be a luxury place as if there was no significance to it, there just semis to be something wrong with that. Along with that, we got to see the house Spielberg used as Goeth's villa which was just down the street. It was really interesting to see the different places that were used in the filming of the movie.
We then got to see the area that the Plasźow concentration camp was in. The area is now a huge field of grass with some trees leaving barely a sign that such a place was actually there. The only thing to really show it are the memorials in the area, but also the sights that there are mass graves there. which one can tell because of the mounds or ridges in the area. It's still just hard to believe such things happened but they did and we can see the evidence right in front our eyes.
Later, that day we got to go to Stare Miasto and the Rynek which was really fun and probably one of my favorite parts of the day. We got to shop at an open market and eat at local joints, which was really fun. Through out this trip it's a lot of moving from place to place, seeing so many things, so this was a nice break to relax and do some shopping, and see some local culture. Also, during this time it finally stopped snowing, yes I said snowing, which was crazy to see in April. Overall, the day was eventful, with some interesting weather.
After waking this morning in a non-haunted hotel (unlike the night before), we travelled to see many different synagogues over town. Unfortunately, due to some issues involving Passover and synagogues not being open, we ended up walking around the neighborhoods of Krakow where parts of Schindler's List was filmed ad where the Schindler factory still stands. Specifically we saw the neighborhoods where the ghetto scenes were shot, which was weird.
After that we walked to the Galicia Jewish museum. The museum was full of photos depicting, through modern photographs, Jewish culture before, during and after the Second World War in Poland. It also "discussed the dialogue between Jewish cultures and the surrounding cultures", which was interesting. The photos themselves were beautiful; a personal favorite being a photograph of a stunning synagogue with the inscription "How awesome is this place! It is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven".
After the exhibit we went to the Empty Chairs Memorial at the site of the main square of the Krakow ghetto, which was, as its name suggests, a courtyard full of empty chairs. It's a reminder of the atrocities carried out against the Polish Jewish people; The chairs are a reminder that people are missing from this neighborhood, from this country. We didn't stay long, but I still felt not exactly heavy, but definitely weighed down by something as we drove away.
That's another thing about this trip, it's really hard to explain exactly how I'm feeling at the moment in most cases as I can't exactly put it into words.
After that we drove to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp Płaszów, which we had to hike up a hill to get to. At the top of the hill was a memorial: the stone statue of 5 men looking down the mountain, with the base of their feet covered with small rocks and candles. The monument is huge, and looks away from the camp. Directly behind the memorial is a small valley, surrounded on all sides by little walls of earth. Like most things on this trip, it was beautiful up until we learned what that area was: the site of mass graves. I felt, and still feel, really small and exhausted when coming to face with what was, yet again, another in person example of what can only be described as Hell. Needless to say, I left as soon as I could.
After that we were released into Krakow for a solid 4 hours alone to get our own lunch and dinner and check out some local attractions. I followed Dan (Wilk) and a few other to get some authentic pierogi which was awesome (even though I spilled soup all over Stephan, sorry!), as well as checking out St. Mary's Basilica, whose altarpiece and trumpeter were amazing. This leads us to now, where I am laying in my bed, at the hotel, after a 5 hour bus ride to Lublin, ready to pass out. Day 7 was amazing and I'm so excited for day 8!
Hello everyone!! It is currently a mix of snow and rain in 46 degree weather...in April :( This morning we walked along some of the streets in Krakow. I loved the designs of the buildings and the vibrant colors such as light pink and teal blue! We walked past two synagogues. Unfortunately, they were closed because of Passover, but we were able to see them from the outside. One of the synagogues was used as a weapons depot for the Nazis. Before the beginning of the Nazi regime, the synagogue held a cemetery. When the Nazis invaded Poland, they smashed the tombstones. Today, the pieces of the tombstones make a wall outside of the synagogue.
We visited the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow. The exhibition is called Traces of Memory and it was created by Sladami Pamieci. He collaborated with two photographers to assemble an exhibit that showed Jewish heritage from 25 years ago and how it has evolved today. The exhibition displayed the present-day realities in color pictures of the remains from the Jewish past after the Holocaust and to suggest insights into what they mean. The photographs were taken of the landscape of the southern region of Poland named Galicia. The exhibition was arranged into five sections: Jewish life in the Ruins, Glimpses of the Jewish culture that once was, The Holocaust sites of massacre and destruction, How the past is being remembered, and The revival of Jewish life. I really enjoyed visiting this museum because its objective is to avoid inappropriate, stereotypical generalizations, but instead, offer a multi-dimensional set of perspectives on the subject. It honors the Jewish past of Galicia.
We continued our day by visiting key places from the movie, Schindler's List, the Facing History class was able to watch at the beginning of the year. We visited multiple scenes from the movie, where ghettos were being liquidated. We also stopped by Oskar Schindler's factory, in which he employed Jewish people to work in. We finished our morning visiting a memorial at the top of a hill, in which there were four huge stone statues looking down towards the ground. Ms. Freeman talked about how the memorial overlooks the Plaszow camp and how the uneven mounds were due to mass burials by the Nazis. While it was extremely upsetting to look at, it was something that reminds one of the extent of the Nazis.
We took the bus back to Old Town of Krakow. There, we were able to go out in groups and get food, visit places, and go shopping. The center of Krakow-like much of Poland-was so beautiful. I went out with Soumia, Ellie, and Jaileen. We first visited the church in the town square. From the inside to the outside, it was so magnificent and decorated so extensively. Gold filled the inside of the church and stained glass windows surrounded the walls. Photography was not allowed in the church in order to show respect, so I was not able to share any pictures with you all.
After, we went to the market in the middle of the town square. There were so many different little shops to look at. Many of them held jewelry, bags, and clothing. There were many restaurants and chocolate places and shops. When it came to paying for items, it was really hard trying to figure out what the conversion from Polish money to dollars was! We ended up eating at the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was delicious. I ordered a pasta with Alfredo sauce and French fries.
At 6:00 pm, we all met back at our hotel and boarded our bus for Lublin. Currently we are about 5 hours into our ride, and will be approaching Lublin shortly. We got stuck in traffic because of the rain and a car accident.
So far, the trip has been amazing, but one that is also extremely upsetting. We are visiting another concentration camp tomorrow, but I will let others tell you about that tomorrow. Bye thanks for reading and we will see you soon!
Good day, parents and students! Since we last left off, the group has traveled into Poland, land of potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes. It's day 7. It's been 7 whole days since we left, but it has honestly felt like an eternity, in a good way. The trip has been filled with an expansive range of different emotions, but today was really more of a lighthearted day.
To start off, we visited the Remuh Synagogue and cemetery where we learned a lot about the neighborhood of Kazimierz before and after the war, as well as within the context of modern society. Though we were unable to go inside of the Synagogue because of Passover, we did get to see the cemetery and the wall that was created out of tombstones of perished Jewish people. After that, we were able to visit this absolutely incredible little museum called the Galicia Jewish Museum which had really horrible white chocolate, but an incredible exhibition that celebrates and honors Jewish life.
The "Traces of Memory" exhibition was divided into different sections. The start of it was more of a background of Jewish history, but as we walked on, we were able to see a series of photographs with captions and descriptions citing what the photographs were of or represented. For example, there was one wall of photographs from Auschwitz I and Birkenau that showed things like the memorial that used to be in one of the gas chambers and the densely packed barracks. Other walls showed different things, like photographs of mass graves dedicated to the Jewish people who perished or pictures of anti-Nazi graffiti and Antisemitic graffiti. This exhibition incited both disgust and hope into those who really took a look into each individual picture. Throughout the stroll through, I really wanted to know why each photograph was put where. Artists almost always have a reason for doing things, though sometimes they leave those reasons up to the viewers. The exhibition ended on a happier note, filled with modern examples of the celebration of Jewish life. I remember a photograph of a man who was very dedicated to teaching about Jewish history. There was also a photograph of tombstone rubbing during the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. This is an annual festival that has been happening since 1994 in which thousands of young Poles participate in. Ending the exhibition on such a positive was a lovely change of thought and really made me think both of the past and the future, not just one or the other.
So, after grabbing weird tasting white hot chocolate drinks and perusing through their pretty expansive selection of books, we were off to the Podgorze ghetto, Ghetto Heroes' Square, and the Museum of the Under the Eagle Pharmacy in which we spent not nearly enough time because of the rain/sleet and the oppressive Polish parking regulations that really put a strain on the best Polish bus driver ever, Yanoosh (I'm gonna need a spellcheck on that one).
We then visited the Schindler Factory where we again spent little time and then to the remains of the Plaszow concentration camp and what was left of Amon Goeth's villa, which is now being turned into a luxury villa. A horrible piece of history is being made into this deluxe villa, which I personally find to be unfortunate.
Then we were given several hours of free time in the main square of Start Miasto in which we basically followed a sketchy, but nice guy into an alleyway into a restaurant just to get some really bad pizza, got ripped off by a cute Polish guy adorned with many a fur, and got ripped off even more by tourist shops with cute dragons and Star Wars music boxes. Overall, it was a day that really distracted us from the things we may have still been thinking about in terms of what we had seen in the previous days, specifically day 6. We are now on a 5 hour bus ride to Lublin where I will most definitely knock out, along with everyone else. Dobry noc to you all!