Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oskar Schindler's factory/museum and Krakow ghetto

Schindler's "Emalia (enamel bowls, cups, cookware etc.)  Factory",  rebuilt into a great museum at 4 Lipowa Street. From 1948 to 2002 it had been used as a Polish telecommunications factory. Now recounts the 5 years of the Nazi occupation in Krakow through videos, photos, documents, settings, drawings etc.  It shows prewar Krakow, the German invasion in 1939, Krakow as the capital of Poland under the Nazi occupation, the sorrows of everyday living in the occupied city, family life, the wartime history of Krakow Jews, the resistance movement,  the underground Polish state, and lastly the Soviet capture of the city.  There is A LOT to see, read and listen to.  We were there for over 5 straight hours. The videos, most of which were interviews with the Jewish survivors were fascinating. They varied in length from 15 to 5 minutes (more or less) and were very well-done. One couldn't listen to all of them but we did a good job of listening to many.

Plaque on the factory

The main medieval square, which I posted many photos of before, is called in Polish Rynek Glowny. The Germans under their occupation called it  first alter Markt and then Adolf-Hitler Place. Original signs.

Tile floor in one room of the museum. this was added for the museum but was very effective

Schindler's original office. Furnishings and map were all preserved and are original.

Enamelware produced in factory much of which was often traded in black markets for other goods but primary purpose was cookware for German soldiers.

 Ghetto (translated as Ghetto Heroes Square), before 1948 known as Plac Zgody,
 about 500 meters from Schindler's factory- where the jews were all forced to live in March of 1941.  Ghetto was next to the industrial area with many plants where the jews were used as cheap forced laborers. The residents of this Podgorze borough were forced to move to make way for the 17,000 jews who were sent here by the Germans. The other 65,000 jews who had been in krakow had already been moved out or left for other cities.  the Plaszow concentration camp was near by. And the adjoining Zablocie train station facilitated future deportations.

Large ghetto square. The ghetto was walled off with 4 gates, guarded by Germans. 4 Jewish families would share one flat. The chairs are a monument and are placed all over the square, 30+ large and 30+ smaller ones  in remembrance of  the Jew who had all their possessions thrown out on the street as they were being deported by the SS to death camps.  Germans closed the ghetto in 1943 after all the Jews had been moved out in 3 stages.
Monument was built in Dec 2005 
 Pharmacy (original) in ghetto, right across from ghetto.  The pharmacist (Only non-jew who lived in the ghetto) and his 3 woman  Polish helpers were part of the Polish resistance.  They also were  risking their lives  by allowing notes to get out to relatives of the jews inside medicines, they had food smuggled in etc.

Train crossing the river from Podgorze area (area of the ghetto and industrial plants). We walked over the river to get back to our hotel as it was very close.
It was raining slightly the day we visited the museum and the ghetto. there is a great bike/walking path around krakow, along the  Wisla river although we never had time to explore it.

Back across the river to the Kazimierz district and the historical Jewish Quarter - 5 minutes from our hotel was the oldest synagogue in Krakow. It is now a museum, with mostly photographs.  We tried twice to get in but it was closed and then closed for Yom Kippur.

original gate of factory (front of car)

Was another intense day of touring but I would recommend this museum to anyone. Very well -done and one learns a tremendous amount.

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