The Eagle Pharmacy

5th Mar 2020


Between 1941 and 1943 on the area of Podgórze district existed a ghetto for Kraków Jews, set up by Germans to accumulate all Jewish people in one place.

By March 20, 1941 3,500 of non-Jewish, called 'Aryans' were forced to leave their homes and move to other parts of Kraków. In their place, 16,000 of Jews were transferred to the area between the Vistula River, Podgórze Place, Krzemionki and the Kraków-Płaszów railway line. Also Jewish institutions, such as the Judenrat, the Jewish self-help, the Jewish hospital, the orphanages and nursing homes were moved to the Jewish quarter. The ghetto area was enclosed by 3-metre walls and was guarded by German police (from the outside) and Jewish police (from the inside). There was only one tram line number 3 which ran through the ghetto but with no stops on the way. This area was destined to be cut off from the rest of the world.

The Eagle Pharmacy, established by Józef Pankiewicz in 1909 in the house number 182, found itself within the ghetto's boundaries. Józef's son Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who run the pharmacy from 1934, got official permit from Germans to keep his pharmacy open, which was unique in the occupied Europe. He managed to convince the authorities that his pharmacy is the only one in ghetto and it needs to be open in case of an epidemic. In this way Pankiewicz became the only non-Jewish person allowed to live permanently on Jewish territory.

During the war, the pharmacy provided shelter and help to the people leaving in ghetto. From the beginning of ghetto's existence, it was a secret meeting place for ghetto's elite which commented on war announcements, read the underground press and held political discussions. The eagle pharmacy was a place of communication with the Aryan world. They smuggled here money, letters and information. Naturally it would be impossible if not the support from the pharmacy's staff – Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his co-workers, such as Irena Droździkowska, Helena Krywaniuk, Aurelia Danek-Czort, who actively participated in helping Jews locked in the ghetto.

Plac Zgody, currently under the name Bohaterów Getta Square, was the main spot of deportations for Jews from Kraków Ghetto. Pankiewicz and his personnel were the eye-witnesses of these violent events. Being aware that the Jews chosen for deportations ended up in death camps, they tried to help them through hiding them in the pharmacy. It was possible thanks to the back door, officially allowed only for staff members. For those who could not have been rescued, the pharmacy was the last point of contact, where they could leave a goodbye message for their families.

Pankiewicz was on duty in his pharmacy for the full period of ghetto's existence – continuously for 2,5 years. His memories from those times was published in the book 'Apteka w getcie krakowskim' (eng.The Pharmacy in the Kraków Ghetto), which is an eyewitness account of Kraków Jews' Holocaust. In 1983 Israel honoured Tadeusz Pankiewicz with the Righteous Among the Nations Medal. Mgr Tadeusz Pankiewicz died on November 5, 1993 and was buried on Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków.

Since April 22, 1983 the premises of the former Eagle Pharmacy at 18 Bohaterów Getta Square has housed a National Memorial Museum devoted to history of Holocaust of Kraków Jews and Tadeusz Pankiewicz. In 2002 the film director Roman Polański gave the money he received for winning Golden Sceptre Award of the Polish Culture Foundation to the Eagle Pharmacy. The exhibition Tadeusz Pankiewicz's Pharmacy in the Kraków Ghetto consists of 6 sections presented in the former pharmacy rooms, equipped with reconstructed furniture and vessels. This display takes you back in time to show the reality of Jewish people's existence during the war.

KL Płaszów

28th Feb 2020


Kraków has been recognized as a historic, cultural and university city on the map of the world. It is hard to believe that only a few kilometers from the Old Town of Kraków there was a concentration camp, where thousands of prisoners of different nationalities were being unjustly imprisoned and murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

KL Płaszów was a Nazi German Labour Camp for Jewish people, created in October 1942 in Kraków-Płaszów, which later became a concentration camp. It was located on the site of the pre-war Jewish cemeteries from 1887 and 1932, which were devastated for this purpose, and occupied the area between Wielicka and Swoszowicka streets. As other concentration camps, Płaszów was guarded by barbed wire and numerous watchtowers as well as SS soldiers. On January 1944 this labour camp was transferred into Płaszów Concentration Camp.

Originally intended for 4,000 Jews from Krakow Ghetto, which was liquidated on March 1943, in the peak period of 1944 the camp was inhabited by even 25,000 prisoners. Both Poles and Jews were imprisoned there, but they lived in separate sectors. There were about 1,000 Polish prisoners until August 1944 but this number grew rapidly after the Warsaw Rising. However, the majority of the prisoners were Jewish people. They worked very hard in a quarry, owned by the trade company Liban&Ehrenpreis. Apart from that, they were employed in sewing uniforms for SS soldiers and printing various documents and orders of Nazi regime, at vehicle workshops, carpentries, blacksmith's shops and stables. Sometimes prisoners worked outside the camp, in sub-camps located by large production plants. One of them was a nearby Enamel Factory of Oscar Schindler known from the famous movie of Steven Spielberg Schindler's List.

One of the ways to start the visit in the Płaszów camp is from the 'grey house' at Jerozolimska Street. The grey house was built in the 1920s as a house for cemetery's workers. During existence of the camp, it housed the office of the Camp Commandant Amon Goeth but also other camp's SS officers such as Hujar, Zdrojewski, Landsdorfer, Ekert and Glaser used to reside there. In addition, the cellar of the building served as a camp prison, where the soldiers used to torture the camp's prisoners. The prisoners of Płaszów were well aware that once someone was imprisoned in this infamous torture chamber, they would never see him again. Unchanged since the war, the grey house holds communal flats today and there are plans to organize a memorial site there. While shooting the Schindler's List, the grey house was presented as a villa of Amon Goeth.

On February 1943 SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Goeth became a commander of the Płaszów camp. Through his behaviour towards prisoners, Goeth made himself a reputation as extremely cruel and merciless person, who was responsible for many executions. His aim was to set an example to his subordinates and teach them how to treat prisoners. Goeth used to work at the grey house, but he spent his private time at the villa located only a few metres further on Heltmana 22 Street. Commandant Amon Leopold Goeth was arrested on September 1944 by German authorities and charged with corruption and violating the regulations. Only after the war Goeth was imprisoned again by Americans and recognized as war criminal. Delivered to Poland, in 1946 he was found guilty of genocide and sentenced to death by hanging. The verdict was carried out on September 13, 1946 in Kraków. The last words of Goeth were: 'Heil Hitler!'

KL Plaszów claims many victims. Jews were killed there by means of starvation, beating, diseases, hard labour and executions. There are a few mass graves on the site of the camp with thousands of dead bodies. At the end of 1943 the authorities of the camp had planned to set up gas chambers and crematorium there but finally the ideas were not realized. They murdered the prisoners by shooting instead. The most popular place of execution was a 6-metre deep hole Hujowa Górka, named after the SS-man and executioner Albert Hujar. The exact number of victims of KL Płaszów is hard to state but it is estimated that during the period of the camp activity approximately 30,000 prisoners were murdered there.

Apart from that, a great number of Płaszów prisoners were being sent to Auschwitz. After liquidation of the camp, the last group of about 600 prisoners from Płaszow were sent on foot to Auschwitz Birkenau on January 14, 1945. To cover their crimes, Nazis forced the prisoners to dig out the bodies and burn them. Those prisoners who were able to walk were taken westwards – those who were to weak were shot in the camp. Around 2,000 people survived the evacuation from Płaszów. On January 18, 1945 KL Płaszów was taken over by the Red Army.

While following Schindler's traces, one should end the tour in front of the memorial to the Płaszów camp victims, which is visible from the distance. The monument was created in 1964 to commemorate all the victims murdered by Nazis in Płaszów Concentration Camp. Out of 225,000 Jews living in Kraków voivodeship before World War II, only 15,000 survived the Holocaust. The names of the survivors can be found at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warszawa.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

14th Feb 2020


Wieliczka Salt Mine is a real gem of the southern Poland and a must see tourist attraction while staying in Kraków. The numbers speak for themselves - in 2018 the salt mine was visited by almost 1,75 million people from over 170 countries, which is a new record of this place.

Clearly, fame of Wieliczka grows from year to year and tourists are not intimidated by the 800 steps which they need to climb during their adventure. Everyone wants to see the salt deposits which were formed about 13,6 million years ago. The underground Tourist Route was created at the turn of 18th and 19th centuries and continued to be expanded over the years. Spread over nine levels, the mine has 245 km of tunnels, but only 2% of the labyrinth was made available for tourists, who cover the distance of about 3 km. Going down into the depth of 135 meters, they can admire wonderful salt sculptures, underground saline lakes and visit 20 magnificent chambers, including the most impressive Chapel of St. Kinga. Being the most remarkable chamber on the route, it astonishes with its size, crystal chandeliers hanging over visitors’ heads and biblical scenes presented on the walls.

According to a local legend, the emergence of salt in Wieliczka town is due to a Hungarian Princess Kinga, who lived in 13th century. Having married the Duke of Kraków Bolesław Wstydliwy, Kinga was gifted by her father with a mine located nearby Marmarosz town. Unable to take her marriage gift with her to Poland, she dropped into one of the mine shaft her engagement ring. On arrival to Kraków, Kinga ordered the miners, who were brought with her to Kraków, to dig in the ground in search for her jewel. In this way the miners came across the first lump of rock salt in Poland with Kinga's ring inside it. It has been believed that this ring brought salt from Hungary to Poland and for this reason Kinga has been recognized as one of the patrons of miners.

But there is also more realistic way of explaining the discovery of salt mines on Polish land. In the distant past, during the neolithic period, salt used to be extracted from local springs through heating their salty water, so-called brine, in small clay pots. In fact, Wieliczka is the place where the oldest vessels in Central Europe designed for salt extraction was excavated. This valuable competence of salt acquiring was passed down for generations - this art was extremely appreciated as salt was essential for preservation of meat and fish. However, at the turn of 11th and 12th centuries, surface salty waters began to dry up and there was an urgent need to seek for brine underground. As a result, they started to construct wells. When such a well was successfully dug, salt water was drawn and heated just like before. One time while digging such a well, the first blocks of rock salt were found. This accidental discovery of 13th century revolutionized the method of salt extraction forever. Within the same century the first mine shaft was hollowed out.

The development of salt industry in the area of Wieliczka town falls within a period of Kazimir the Great reign. It is important to mention that the incomes from salt excavations in Wieliczka constituted even 1/3 of all the incomes the royal treasury. The huge profits from salt mining made it possible for the king to found the first higher educational institution in Poland – the Krakow Academy. At the end of the Middle Ages, about 300-350 miners were employed in Wieliczka Salt Mine and even 7-8 tonnes of salt were produced there every year. The salt mine began to grow in popularity and therefore the first visitors were allowed to visit the underground city. It was recorded that the very first guest of the mine was Nicolaus Copernicus, who, in all likelihood, paid a visit there in 1493. Until 18th century salt in Wieliczka was acquired not only from salt blocks but also from brine. It was only in 1724 when salt evaporation was abandoned and mining methods were used exclusively. The number of tourists were constantly increasing and Wieliczka became recognizable on the map of Europe, being more often mentioned in European literature and appreciated by various great researchers and travellers.

The year 1978 proved to be a breakthrough for the reputation of the mine in the world, because this is when Wieliczka was included into the World Cultural and Natural Heritage UNESCO List. In 1996 a decision was made to cease production of salt in Wieliczka Nevertheless, there are still several hundred miners who work underground every day and make sure that the mine is a safe place for tourists. In addition, they still improve this place – renovate historic chambers and expand the tourist route – to keep it in good condition for next generations and attractive for the tourists. And it surely is: salt cauliflowers on the walls, stories of mine ghosts and numerous multimedia presentations highlight the beauty of Wieliczka Salt Mine and encourage to explore the mysteries of this underground world.

Krakow Christmas Market

16th Dec 2019


Krakow Christmas Market

Located on the Main Market Square in the Old Town, Krakow Christmas Fair is one of the greatest attractions of winter season in Krakow.

This year the Christmas Market operates from November 29th to January 7th, every day from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. We can proudly boast that Krakow Christmas Market was distinguished by CNN as being among the best 17 Christmas Markets all over the world. It is highly significant, since it was listed right next to New York and Florence Christmas Markets! Krakow Christmas Market is considered an absolutely magic place, especially when made silver by the first snowflakes.

Krakow Christmas Market is an annual, over a 100-year tradition. From the last week of November the square is decorated with hundreds of fairy lights and a massive Christmas tree. Then, half of the Main Square is filled with several dozen (around 80) wooden stalls which offers a variety of unique, regional products. The first category of goods pose handmade Christmas decorations, including hand-painted baubles, wreaths, wax candles and frosted gingerbread men. Availability of cheap antiques and jewellery as well as wooden, porcelain and ceramic articles makes this place a perfect destination to find Christmas gifts! Christmas Market is the only opportunity to try all the regional specialities in one place. The offer includes dumplings (pierogi), grilled smoked sheep cheese (oscypki), a loaf bread with special Polish lard and a pickle, grilled sausages, home-made cakes, multi flavour fudges and nuts roasted in caramel. Along with hot mulled wine with cloves (grzaniec) or honey wine, the proposal seems to be irresistible!

Apart from Christmas shopping, numerous artistic events take place on the Market Square. On the stage located nearby, you can admire live performances of artists singing Christmas carols. Every year on December 5th, Krakow Nativity Scene Contest takes place there. What's more, on Christmas Eve Krakow actors present 'Dziady Polskie' by Adam Mickiewicz Monument to celebrate the name day of this great poet, whereas on December 26th, people gathered around the Christmas tree sing together Christmas carols.

You may also like --> Krakow Christmas Music Concert

Kładka Bernatka

13th Dec 2019


Kładka Bernatka

Kładka Bernatka (eng. Father Laetus Bernatek Footbridge) is a hiking-biking bridge on Wisła River in Kraków which connects Kazimierz and Podgórze districts.

It is pretty new facility as it was delivered on 30 September 2010, being built on the site of former Most Podgórski (eng. Podgórski Bridge). Kładka Bernatka was named after father Laetus Bernatek - a monk, who at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries contributed to building the Hospital Order of Hospitalliers of St. John Grande in Kraków (pl. Szpital Bonifratrów). The bridge has a structure of 145-metre steel arch, to which two platforms are suspended (one for pedestrians, another for cyclists).

The whole construction weighs over 700 tonnes. Creation of this footbridge has strongly contributed to a cultural, social and touristic recovery of nearby streets on both sides of Wisła River and adjacent parts of the Wisła Boulevards. The most common destinations of the walkers are Rynek Podgórski (eng. Market Square of Podgórze district) and Park Bednarskiego in Pogórze, and Wolnica Square on the side of Kazimierz district.

Kładka Bernatka became another 'bridge of love', being inspired by other famous European Pont des Arts bridge in Paris as well as Polish bridges Most Tumski in Wrocław or Most Poniatowskiego in Warszawa. The idea is that lovers lock on the bridge railing a padlock which has the names or initials, a message of love and the date engraved on it. After that, they throw the key into the water as a sign that their feelings will never change. In this way, Kraków's 'Lovers Bridge' is loaded with hundreds of padlocks on both its sides. Here and there can be seen some destroyed parts of the railing, which presumably is a result of a bold attempt to remove an 'outdated padlock'. Unfortunately, actions like this are the main reason for poor condition of the railings. To repair them, all the padlocks need to be removed. Most certainly these proof of love can't be thrown out, since they are so meaningful for their owners. However, some new ideas come up to create a monument of love, which would be made entirely of the deleted padlocks.

Strolling through the bridge, there's no way not to look up, where the magnificent sculptures designed by Polish artist Jerzy Kędziora can be admired. The exhibition, which has been presented since the autumn 2016, is called 'Between the water and the sky'. Hanging on the ropes, the statues of nine acrobats dangle over the bridge, adding to its charm and making you feel like you were in some theatre. But the delights of this place don't stop here. The bridge offers a panorama of Kraków as well as Wisła River view, and its neighbourhood is rich in welcoming pubs and restaurants on both Kazimierz and Podgórze sides. On the south-east of the footbridge there is a monument of Juliusz Leo – the mayor of Kraków in the years 1907-1915 and an important figure of the city. Kładka Bernatka takes on a special character only after dark, when, highlighted from below, it creates a unique spot and one of the most photogenic object in the area.

The Krakow Barbican

18th Nov 2019

Barbakan w Krakowie obok Bramy Floriańskiej

The Kraków Barbican

he Kraków Barbican is the element of medieval city's fortifications. Located in the centre of the Planty Park, just between the St. Florian's Gate and Basztowa Street, it is one of the most precious monuments of Kraków and one of the last remains of defensive structures in Europe.

Barbicans started to be built at the beginning of 15th century. They usually had a form of round, brick constructions which were situated outside the main line of defence and connected to the city walls. The principal role of the barbicans was to defend the main city gate. For this reason the walls of the building were provided with numerous loopholes, which gave the possibility of shooting up the enemies from the top.

The Barbican of Kraków was erected in the years 1498-1499 under the reign of Polish king Jan Olbracht, who feared the attack of Wallachian, Tatarian and Turkish enemies, threatening Kraków at that time. The king himself laid the cornerstone for the construction, whose main function was to protect the main city gate of St. Florian, which it was connected to. Built in the Gothic style in brick and stone, it had seven watch towers. The walls of 3 metres thick, which was surrounded by 30-metre-wide moat, made the barbican extremely difficult to get through.

Being the main northern entrance to the city, Barbican used to co-create the beginning of the famous Droga Królewska [E. the Royal Route]. It led from St. Florian Church, through Barbican, the Florian Gate, Floriańska Street, the Main Square by the Mariacki Church, then down Grodzka, Senacka and Kanonicza streets up to Wawel Castle. Droga Królewska was the historical coronation path as well as the funeral corteges of Polish monarchs. This is the way all the important foreign diplomats trod, and where Polish kings, returning after battles and being welcomed by the crowds of Kraków's citizens, used to come back to Wawel. For this reason Barbican was called The Gate of Glory (Porta Gloriae) of Kraków city.

Nowadays, Barbican stands as a museum and it poses a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. It serves as a venue for multiple exhibitions. The 500-year-old fortification also features interesting sport events such as Polish championship in fencing or presentations of knight tournaments and court dances. Barbican is accessible for the tourists, who have the opportunity to get inside the building and become acquainted with the history of Kraków's defensive architecture.

The Krakus Mound

28th Oct 2019

kopiec w Krakowie w słoneczny dzień

The Krakus Mound

In Krakow, there are four separate memorial mounds and the city is a Polish champion in this regard. Two the oldest structures include Krakus Mound and Wanda Mound; then, there is the most popular one - Tadeusz Kościuszko Mound and finally, the youngest and the biggest of them is called after Józef Piłsudski.

Located on the right bank of the Wisła River in the Podgóże district, Krakus Mound (called also Krak Mound) is not only the oldest preserved objects of its kind in Kraków but also the biggest prehistoric mound in Poland. This 16m high construction was truly of a great importance, which is proven by the fact that it was visible from the Wawel Castle so that the kings, taking important decisions in Poselska Hall, could look at the mound through the window and be reminded of the greatness of their predecessor - the King Krakus.

According to the Polish chronicler Jan Długosz, the mound was built by two sons of Krakus as a grave for their deceased father. King Krakus, known also as Krak or Gracchus, was a legendary founder of Krakow, known for its righteousness and, if you believe the legend, he lived in 8th century AD. If you are interested what did Krak look like, you should see the sculpture of the king made by Franciszek Kalfas which can be found in the courtyard of National Archives on Sienna 16. After Krak's death, his daughter Wanda became his successor and this is she whom the second mound is dedicated to.

There is a great probability that Krakus Mound functioned as a place of pagan worship, since Krakus Mound, Wawel Hill and Wanda Mound create together an isosceles triangle. In addition, the recent archaeological works revealed there the remains of 300-year-old oak's roots - the tree which used to grow on the top of the mound and was cut down shortly after Poland had been baptised. For this reason it can be assumed that the oak was connected with the pagan cult taking place on the mound. In this sense there is a strong similarity between the Krakus Mound and other archaic constructions such as Stonehenge.

In contrast, nowadays the Krakus Mound functions as a recreational spot which seems to be perfect for afternoon walks. It is a popular target for couples in love who want to spend some time in nature. Besides, Krakus Mound is a great touristic destination, as it provides a wonderful panoramic view of the city. It is definitely worth to visit the mound and climb up to the top of it, which gives a golden opportunity to admire a breathtaking scenery of Krakow, including the Old Town, Płaszów and the Liban Quarry with the remains of the scenery for Steven Spielberg's film 'Schindler's List'.

(photo: Magiczny Kraków)

Plac Nowy (The New Square)

17th Oct 2019

Plac Nowy na Krakowskim Kazimierzu w Krakowie z lotu ptaka

Plac Nowy

Plac Nowy (eng. The New Square), also called the Jewish Square, is the very heart of Kazimierz district. Surrounded by the Nowa, Beera Meiselsa, Warszauera and Estery streets, it is one of the most original marketplaces of Poland.

On the north side of the square, extending along defensive walls of Kazimierz, there are the houses once belonged to the Jewish hospital near the Kupa Synagogue From the end of 16th to the mid 19th century, the area of Plac Nowy was the part of Jewish town, called Libuszhof. This is where the paths of the inhabitants of Kazimierz used to cross. Today's constructions around the square took shape mostly in the years 1870-1923 and from the 1900 this area has been serving as a marketplace.

The central point of Plac Nowy is the Okrąglak (Rotunda) with the hole-in-the-wall food hatches. Okrąglak was built in 1900 as a market hall. In 1927 the building was leased to Jewish Community and it was transformed into a ritual poultry slaughterhouse, which was liquidated only during the German occupation. After the World War II, the Okrąglak again started to serve as a market hall. Currently, in its walls there are fast food windows located. This is exactly where you can taste the best 'zapiekanki' in the whole Kraków. Being of enormous size, they are really unmatched. If you do not believe, you can just look at the endless queue of hungry people waiting to get them. But it is worth to wait! Plac Nowy is the place where yearly concerts of Krakow Jewish Festival take place – and they are performed on the Okrąglak's roof. In 2008, the building was entered into the register of historical monuments of Kraków.

From early morning hours in Plac Nowy merchant stalls offer a variety of goods, including fresh vegetables, food and industrial products. On every Saturday a flea market takes place there, which attracts collectors from the whole Poland as everyone can find various precious antiquities (like old books and jewellery). In addition, on Sundays for the past few decades a clothing market has been carried out there. It is a great opportunity to search out an original second-hand outfit and do not lose a fortune. The square of Plac Nowy is surrounded by numerous lovely bars and cafes which allude to the magical atmosphere of old Kazimierz.

photo: Jan Graczyński

Wawel Dragon Statue

2nd Oct 2019


Wawel Dragon Statue

Wawel Dragon Statue is a longtime symbol of Kraków. The six-metre monument, being a major tourist attraction of the city, is dedicated to a beast from popular local legends.

According to the oldest story, in the 12th-century Kraków there was a dragon who terrified the residents of the city for years. To avoid casualties, local people used to feed the dragon with their own cattle, which resulted in financial losses. Then Krakus, who was the king of Poland and founder of Kraków city, decided to disembarrass his people and ordered his two sons – Lech and Krakus II - to kill the monster. The young men, being aware of the predominance of the dragon, came up with a clever idea. At feeding time, they put in front of the dragon's lair a calf skin which was staffed with brimstone. The creature, unaware of the deceit, ate up the whole meal and immediately rushed to the nearest water point which was the Wisła River. Unable to quench thirst, the Wawel Dragon was drinking the water uncontrollably until it consumed half the river and its enormous stomach exploded. In this way the royal sons rescued inhabitants of Kraków from the cruel monster. In later versions of the legend, this brave feat is credited to a poor cobbler Skuba, who, as a reward, won the hand of king's daughter.

No matter which variant of this story is closer to the truth, the dragon located at the foot of Wawel Hill since 1972 is to remind us of these legendary events. The Dragon Statue, designed by the local artist Bronisław Chromy, breathes real fire every 10 minutes, which brings a smile on the faces of visitors. Contrary to popular belief, the creature has seven heads, not just one, that most of the people don't know about, assuming that the smaller heads are its limbs. Literally every tourist wants to take a souvenir photo with the Wawel beast!

The dragon motif is so popular that even the street leading towards the castle is called Smocza [Eng. Dragon Street] and every year on June there is the famous Great Dragons Parade taking place on the streets of Kraków. Having seen the statue, it is worth to visit also the Dragon's Lair, which is situated nearby on the bank of the Wisła River. The chamber, that used to be home to the dragon, is available for tourists from the second half of April until the end of October, from 10:00 to 19:00. You can purchase the tickets by the entrance for 5zł. Enjoy yourself! :)

Schindler's Factory

19th Sep 2019

Schindler's Factory Gate

Schindler's Factory

Oskar Schindler's Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik (DEF), widely known as Schindler's Factory, is one of the most important place to visit during your stay in Krakow, especially when you are interested in World War II.

You cannot miss learning the real history of a man who, being a German under Nazi occupation, saved the lives of over a thousand Jewish people. So-called Schindler's Factory was established two years before the Second World War by the three Jewish businessmen. However, in March 1939 it gave up its production and three months later it had to go bankrupt. As a result, on November 1939 a Suden German industrialist Oskar Schindler (1908-1974) took over the factory. Before the war, Schindler was famous for his interest in making quick money, drinking, and love affairs. When the German occupation started, he moved to Kraków in search of business opportunities.

Being a member of a Nazi party NSDAP and most probably also an associate of German Abwehr, Oskar Schindler managed to make a fortune of his Enamel Factory. The works produced enamelled dishes, pots and spoons, and from 1943 also arms related products including mess kits and artillery shells and fuses for the Wehrmacht

Initially, Schindler employed Jews for economic reasons – they were just free labour force. Actually, it was a common practice applied by many industrialists like Volkswagen, Bayer and IG Farben to profit from low-paid Jewish workers. But ghetto liquidation and resulting from this cruel deportations made Schindler aware that Jewish community is in trouble and he himself, being the owner of a prosperous company, is able to help them. Providing his Jewish workers with Kennkarte could save them from deportations and transports to death camps. Thanks to his good connections and bribery, Oskar Schindler got permission to create on the territory of his factory a subcamp of Płaszow labour camp, so that his employees were allowed to move there. In this way, the Jews could avoid the certain death in Auschwitz after the Krakow ghetto was liquidated on March 1943. Thus, the Schindler's Factory became a shelter for the elders, the sick and children, who entered in a so-called Schindler's List. Afterwards, when faced with losing the war the Nazis started to prepare for evacuation and liquidated the subcamp in Enamel Factory, Oskar Schindler established an ammunition factory in Brünnlitz (Czech Republic) and hired 'his Jews' there. Through his bravery and empathy, Oskar Schindler managed to save about 1 100 Jewisch people sentenced to death. In 1962, he was declared a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem and after his death in 1974, Schindler was buried in Israel at the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion, as he had wished.

Today the former administrative building of Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory houses the Schindler's Factory Museum which is the department of Historical Museum of the City of Krakow. The permanent exhibition presented there, entitled 'Kraków under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945', tells the story of the factory at Lipowa Street 4 in a broader historical context, including Krakow and both its Polish and Jewish inhabitants during World War II. The exposition has been divided into a dozen parts devoted to individual issues: the World War II, the role of Krakow as power centre of General Government, everyday life of Krakow residents during the war, the fate of Krakow's Jews, the Polish Secret State and also the story of Oskar Schindler, his workers as well as the German occupiers. The Schindler's Factory Museum was officially opened on 10 June 2010. The story of Oscar Schindler and his employees was firstly described by an Australian writer Thomas Keneally in his novel 'Schindler's Ark', whereas in 1993 Steven Spielberg made it into a movie - a world-famous 'Schindler's List', which was shot mostly in Poland.

(photo: Magiczny Krakow)
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