Welcome to Cracow, former capital of Poland, listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s most beautiful and historical cities. It escaped the ravages of the World War II with monuments and buildings of architectural merit. But it’s wartime history is very, very interesting.
- Old Town enlisted by UNESCO: the largest Market Square in Europe with Renaissance Cloth Hall and Gothic Basilica of St Mary
- Visit to Collegium Maius – the museum of the Jagiellonian University
- Stroll through Planty Park – the Barbican and Florian Gate – precious examples of medieval defensive architecture.
- Wawel Hill, a former seat of Polish dukes, kings and… Hans Frank, the Governor-General of occupied Poland’s territory. Part of a complex is the Cathedral, where royal coronations took place and where kings and other distinguished Poles have been buried.
- Stroll through the former Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz. In medieval times it was a separate town, where both Catholics and Jews lived and worked next to each other. Nowadays one can still observe the remains of the Jewish diaspora – synagogues: Remuh, Old and Temple or the Jewish cemetery. Each street has its own history and a different character.
- Oscar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, exhibition “Kraków under Nazi occupation 1939 – 1945” is a journey through the city which presents its Polish and Jewish citizens as well as German’ occupiers. The history of World War II intersects with everyday life and private life of the citizens. The exhibition is a theatrical, film and multimedia narrative.
- Visit to the Śląski House at Pomorska St where thousand people were interrogated and tortured. They left inscriptions on the walls of the cells which now are the main centre of the exhibition “People of Kraków in Times of Terros 1939-1945-1956”. The museum presents the similarities between the two totalitarian systems: the Nazi and the communist.
- Eagle Pharmacy, which was run by a Pole, who had the right for permanent residence within the Ghetto. It became a meeting place for Jewish intellectuals, scholars and artists living in the Ghetto.
- Home Army Museum promotes knowledge about the Polish Underground Movement and its armed forces. On the exhibition one can see i.e. British heavy bomber, the Halifax, which airdropped supplies for the Home Army; the inside of the V2 rocket, world’s first long-range ballistic missile developed during the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. Members of the Home Army sussed it out.
Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. Between 1940 and 1942 it functioned exclusively as a concentration camp, a place of slow killing as the result of inhuman conditions, above all starvation. After 1942 it simultaneously was the largest center for the immediate mass killing of European Jews. Guiding options:
a. General Tour. Up to 3,5 hours: permanent exhibition at Auschwitz I Main Camp and the site of the Main Camp; the most important remaining camp object at Birkenau: the site of the camp, residential barracks, the unloading ramp, the ruins of gas chambers and crematoria II and III.
b. One-day study tour. App. 6 hours: general tour of the site of the Birkenau camp supplemented by special emphasis on selected objects associated with the mass destruction of the Jews (the ruins of gas chambers and crematoria IV and V, “Kanada”, the “Sauna” building, or Bunker No. 2)
Visit to Museum of Polish Aviation, with huge collection of war birds from first and second World War. The most precious ones belonged to Hermann Goering, infamous air marshal of Nazi Germany. They were seized by advancing Polish army in 1945. Other one-of-it’s-kind item is PZL P-11, Polish fighterplane, that fought on skies over Cracow in 1939.
In the afternoon the group will visit Wieliczka – UNESCO listed, world-famous salt mine. Not related to the history of WW2, but a-must-see during trip to Poland.