Saturday, July 13, 2013

Daemen Students in Krakow

Daemen students (and friends) in front of the Adam Mickiewicz memorial in the Rynek Glowny.

Daemen students taking part in the Daemen College-Panstwowe Wyzsza Szkola Wschodnioeuropejska (PWSW) exchange program visited Krakow from 4-7 July. We were delighted to see Jordan Sieracki (third from left in the photo above), who is studying at the Jagiellonian University as a recipient of a Tomaszkiewicz-Florio Scholarship from the Kosciuszko Foundation. Participants in the Daemen-PWSW summer program (to the right of Jordan as you view the photo) are Kaleigh Ratliff, Liz White, Tyler Vanice, Chelsea Sieczkarek, and Caitlyn Ebert.

While in Krakow, students toured the medieval center of the city. For centuries, Wawel Castle was the residence in the capital for rulers of Poland, and Wawel Cathedral contains the tombs of many famous Poles.

Wawel Castle and Cathedral

For example, the crypt below Wawel Cathedral holds the tomb of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, one of the Polish heroes of the American Revolution.

Kosciuszko's tomb in Wawel

Perhaps the most challenging part of any visit to Wawel Cathedral is the long climb up a narrow wooden stairway to the top of the Sigismund Tower.

Daemen students under the gigantic Sigismund Bell

Although the climb is tiring, the exhilarating panoramic view from the tower makes it all worthwhile.

View of Krakow from Sigismund Tower

On 5 July students visited several sites associated with Jewish history in Krakow, as well as museums dealing with the fate of Krakow during World War II. Lecturers provided historical context for each visit to various branches of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow.

We began our day on 5 July with a visit to the Old Synagogue in the Kazimierz district, which was the center of Jewish life in Krakow for centuries.

Old Synagogue in Kazimierz

From Kazimierz it is a short walk to the site of Oskar Schindler's factory. Here the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow opened a new museum in 2010 that integrates the story of Shindler's factory into the broader story of Krakow during World War II. Our lecture tour focused on the permanent exhibit dedicated to "Krakow Under Nazi Occupation, 1939-1945."

The Museum at Schindler's Factory

We concluded our day with lecture tours of two other branches of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow: Apteka pod Orlem (Eagle Pharmacy) and Pomorska 2 (Pomorska Street no. 2). Located within the walls of the ghetto constructed by the Germans, the Eagle Pharmacy was managed by Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who is one of the Righteous among the Nations. Pankiewicz bribed German officials in order to keep his pharmacy open, thus providing medicines to Jews in the ghetto as well as a meeting place for them.

Inside the Eagle Pharmacy

2 Pomorska Street was the location of Gestapo headquarters in Krakow during World War II. The remaining prison cells provide the cornerstone for an exhibit on "People in Krakow in Times of Terror: 1939-1945-1956." As the title implies, this exhibit deals with the fate of Krakow during the periods of Nazi terror and Stalinist terror.

Graffiti on a prison cell at Gestapo headquarters in Krakow

On 6 July, students toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps  in Oswiecim. Students will also visit the Majdanek concentration camp outside Lublin on 19 July. Future blog entries will discuss these sites in more detail.

This rail line ends inside the camp at Birkenau.

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