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President Komorowski backs Poland’s Olympic 2022 bid.

President Komorowski backs Polish Olympic bid

“If we want to co-host such an event in 2022 we have to start working on it today,” President Komorowski said in the mountain resort of Bialka Tatrzanska, Małopolska.

The head of state mentioned the state of the road that links the tourist centres of Krakow and mountain resort of Zakopane as among the priorities for preparations for hosting the games.

“The funds should be spent on the ‘famous’ motorway leading to Zakopane which as of now does not meet the standards for such a big international event,” he said of the 1970s-built road.

Komorowski also said that as this was a joint bid to host the Winter Olympics with Slovakia, coordinating the project must begin right away.

“We need to build cooperation with our Slovak neighbours. We could not prepare this bid without them because our Tatra mountains are not as big as those in Slovakia,” Komorowski said.

According to the plan, Krakow, in southern Poland, would host the opening and closing ceremonies and the city would host the majority of the events played on ice, while Zakopane, Poland’s winter tourist capital, would handle snowboarding, cross country skiing and the biathlon.

Slovakia would organise a number of skiing events and some of the ice hockey fixtures.

A letter of intent has already been signed by the heads of the Olympic committees of Poland and Slovakia while the official candidacy declaration is to be made in 2013.

The host city will be elected on July 31, 2015 at the 127th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur.

Several European cities have put in bids to host the event, including Munich, Nice, Oslo and Lviv.

Asian bids have come from Beijing and Almaty in Kazakhstan.

LINKED POSTS

January 15, 2013 Posted by | Events, Sport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

England Team at Auschwitz

January 14, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz, Sport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on the Auschwitz Perpetual Fund

A host of countries have donated money to a recent fundraising effort by the Auschwitz–Birkenau Foundation meant to help preserve the historical site.

Because of weather in recent years many of the structures at the site have been compromised. In an effort to renovate them, the Auschwitz Museum set up a fundraising initiative run by Jacek Kastelaniec, director of the Foundation.

Germany was the biggest donor, contributing 60 millions euros. The United States contributed 15 million, Poland 10 million, France and Austria 5 million each, the UK 2.5 million, and Israel one million. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand and even Turkey chipped in. So far the foundation has raised 99 million of what it hopes will ultimately be a 120 million euro preservation project.

“The greater problem is Birkenau, located between two rivers,” Kastelaniec told the Israeli daily Maariv. “Rainy seasons overflow the rivers and flood the land, which is what pushed the pavilions to the brink of collapse. Three years ago we decided to start fundraising, and last June we started the renovation work at the camp, which is supposed to take 15 years.”

Some experts have voiced skepticism, however, saying that by the time the renovations are complete they’ll have to start all over again because of damage done in the interim by the weather.

Meanwhile the fundraising efforts persist as the Foundation aims to raise the 21 million euros it needs to reach its goal.

January 14, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

1.1 Million visitors to Wieliczka salt mine in 2012

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One million and 117 thousand tourists toured the site, five per cent more than in 2011.

Foreign tourists accounted for 53 per cent of visitors.

The British top the list (60. 9 thousand, 12 per cent more than in 2011), followed by Italians (42.4 thousand, an increase of 17 per cent) and Germans (38.5 thousand, an increase of 4 per cent). French, Korean, Russian, Norwegian, Spanish, American and Hungarian visitors were the remaining nations in the top ten.

Director of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Kajetan d’Obyrn, has told the Polish Press Agency that with an annual number of visitors exceeding one million and almost 36 million visitors since the end of World War Two, Wieliczka is by far the most popular sightseeing attraction of its kind in the world.

Last year’s visitors also included almost 1,000 journalists and reporters from many countries. The mine served as location for a Bollywood production, Discovery Channel produced a programme on underground chapels and Canadian TV made a report in its series on the most bizarre restaurants.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was founded in the middle of the 13th century. It features a 3.5-km touring route for visitors that includes historic statues and mythical figures. There are also a large chapel, an underground lake, as well as a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.

In 1978 the Wieliczka Mine was included in the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

January 12, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Health Resort

wieliczka salt mine

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort has signed an agreement with the National Health Service, Malopolska region, for health resort ambulatory care treatment services offered to persons with upper and lower respiratory system ailments and allergies. The next visiting period begins 4th February 2013.

Ambulatory treatment usually last 18 days and includes both days and night stays in the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort. During the stay the patient takes treatments according to the prepared program which is implemented in the comfortable and well fitted Eastern Mountain’ Stable Chamber.

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort is the first in Poland underground health resort in which patients can take advantage of subterraneotherapy. This is an innovative method for treating respiratory system ailments developed by Professor Mieczyslaw Skulimowski in the 1950s.

This method is based on subjecting patients to physical, chemical and biological stimuli existing only underground. The constant temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, the movement and ionization of the air form a unique climate which relieves symptoms of many diseases. The air is saturated with sodium chloride and free of bacteria, viruses and pollutions.

Contact: “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort
Park Kingi 1 bldg. I, 32-020 Wieliczka
Phone: +48 12 278 73 68
Fax: +48 12 288 27 73
E-mail: sanatorium@kopalnia.pl

Other salt mine blog posts

January 11, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walter Kolodziejek – Prisoner number 2254

Hitler’s SS Guards changed the name of Walter Kolodziejek (below) after he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz in the summer of 1940, just a few weeks after the Germans opened it. He was only 18 then. The day he arrived he came to be known as Auschwitz prisoner #2254 and has worn that number on his chest ever since.

Auschwitz Survivor - Walter Kolodziejek

He is shown here displaying the number at the Christmas “Oplatek” conducted by the Downstate New York Division of the Polish American Congress at Greenpoint’s Polonaise Terrace. He surprised everyone there because they thought all Auschwitz prisoners had their number imprinted on the forearm.

It was only the first Polish prisoners like Mr. Kolodziejek who had their number put on their chest. Almost all of these early Polish prisoners who survived the camp have already died and Mr. Kolodziejek is believed to be the only one still living with this kind of tattoo.

With January 28, 2013 as the date of his 91st birthday, the Polish American Congress and its guests celebrated this momentous day with a chorus of Happy Birthday and Sto Lat.

The first medical experiments German doctors conducted on Auschwitz prisoners were performed on these Polish inmates.  Mr. Kolodziejek was one of them.  His inner strength allowed him to endure these experiments and survive them.  In amazement, the Nazi doctors nicknamed him, “Hard as a Rock.”

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz POW Camp survivor tells ‘A Soldiers Story’

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He sells poppies and gives talks to schoolchildren so that they never forget the sacrifices made in war, but RON JONES will never forget his time in the Auschwitz prisoner-of-war camp, or his 900 mile ‘death march’ across Europe.

“LIFE in the prisoner-of-war camp wasn’t that bad really.

There was the humiliation and the lack of food, but on the whole life wasn’t too bad and the Germans, contrary to what a lot of people think, were pretty good to us on the whole.

But it was the march that was terrible, I could still see it when I went back to Auschwitz, I couldn’t sleep with the memories.

I jokingly call my story ‘A soldier’s story’ and that story should never have happened in the first place.

I was working as a wire drawer in Cardiff docks so I was in a reserved occupation. Out of 62 working with me I was the only one called up.

I was in bed and my wife, Gwladys, came in and said: “There’s a buff envelope here from the War Office, Ron.”

Now it seemed as though every six months you filled in a form to say you had a reserved occupation, so I couldn’t understand how I had callup papers.

I went down to the works to see the personnel officer and they found out that some typist had put my form in the incoming mail rather than the outgoing mail, so I got called up.

So within six months I was abroad.

I was sent out with a contingent of the South Wales Borderers to Cairo to make up the 1st Battalion of the Welsh Regiment.

I was in Cairo for about two months and then we got sent up the desert.

We fought our way up to Benghazi by December 1941 and had a Christmas dinner. Of course, Rommel’s crowd were coming up there then. Sgt Major Cockbill said to me one day, “go up the road and see what’s happening, Corporal Jones”. I went up the road with a group of men and there was a dirty great German tank there.

A fellow at the front said, “Drop your guns, boys, the war is over”.

We were held in Italy until 1943, when we were asked one day if any of us were engineers. Of course, a lot of hands went up, they said we were needed to work in the factories in Milan. We were transported up the country by train but soon discovered it wasn’t to go to Milan.

We were handed over to the Germans, who piled us into cattle tracks and drove us across Europe for three days with no food, water, nowhere to use the latrine.

When we finally arrived we could see all these people in pyjamas behind barbed wire. We asked who they were and the German officer said “Jews”, as though it should be obvious. We soon worked out it was Auschwitz.

I worked at the IB Farben chemical factory in a synthetic petrol plant.

There were 18 of us in my hut and we worked from six till six, six days a week.

On Sundays we got to play football and I was the goalkeeper for the Welsh prisoner of war XI. The Red Cross had brought us out a set of four football kits, Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish.

It was no holiday camp, mind.

One day Corporal Reynolds was told to go up a ladder and change some pipes in the roof of one of the factories. He was scared of heights and kept telling them he couldn’t do it, but he didn’t speak enough German for them to understand.

There was a guard who had already been in trouble for stabbing one of our boys. He tried to force Reynolds to go up again. When he refused he shot him with his Luger. You should have seen how quickly I went up that ladder.

The worst thing about the prisoner-of-war camp was the smell of burning flesh from the crematorium next door.

We used to get some food through from the Red Cross and one day I took a piece of saltage down to this man I could see in pyjamas in the snow, digging a trench on the other side of the fence.

He said his name was Jozef. We used to chat for a while and he gave me a ring he made out of a piece of steel pipe.

One day I went down there and asked another of the Polish prisoners where Jozef was. They said he had been sent to the gas chambers.

I still wear the ring to this day.

I was at Auschwitz from October 1943 to January 1945.

One day in January we could hear fighting up the road. Sgt Major Charlie Coward had a wireless, which he hid from the officers. Even we didn’t know where it was but we were getting news through that the Russians were getting close so we knew it was them.

In the second week of January the Germans just rounded us up and marched us out. We must have been on the road for around 17 weeks, walking right across Poland, Germany and into Austria in the middle of winter when it was 15 to 20 degrees Celsius below zero.

I had sacks on my feet because my boots fell apart on the walk.

We were starving, too. I remember kicking a pig out the way one day to get the potatoes he was eating.

About 230 of us left Auschwitz but when we got to Regensburg, where the Germans left us in a barn, there were only about 150 of us when the Americans found us.

When I was repatriated in May 1945 my wife was washing me in the bath and crying because I was so thin. I was like a Belsen boy. I said: “Don’t cry, love, I came home in one piece.”

There were a lot of people who died along the road. You can never forget something like that.

My wife, Gwladys, never gave up on me. We were village sweethearts in Bassaleg. It was always me and Gwlad partnered together at the dances growing up.

Even though she didn’t know where I was she waited all those years. She eventually had a letter from a nun in Scotland who had heard I was alive. I still don’t know how she knew or who she was to this day.

Gwladys died seven years ago. I have had such a wonderful life with her. She was a great companion, and what a cook! I miss her terribly.

Now I still sell poppies for the Royal British Legion every year and I give talks in local schools about my experience.

It is something we should never forget and I am amazed at how attentive the children are. Hopefully they will pass the message on to their children as there are only three of us left from the march now. Brian Bishop, Dennis Argyll and me.”

January 10, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

The History of Poland

January 9, 2013 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Lodz – The Polish Manchester

The SunThe mayor of Lodz is considering legal action against British tabloid The Sun, after it described the central Polish city as being full of “drunks, loan sharks and pawnbrokers”.

“Today I am sending the editor-in-chief of The Sun a letter inviting him to see with his own eyes how much his subordinate was mistaken as to the actual quality of our beloved city,” Mayor Hanna Zdanowska said on Monday after the Sunday edition of the tabloid wrote an extensive article detailing what they claim is the decline of the once prosperous industrial city.

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The mayor added that she has instructed lawyers at the Town Hall to look at possibilities of taking action against the Murdoch-owned newspaper for misrepresenting the city and harming its image abroad.

She has also asked the Polish Foreign Ministry to intervene.

“Derelict buildings, boarded-up businesses, crumbling masonry – the poor and elderly getting in line to buy bread,” is the grim picture painted by the British tabloid under the headline: “The Polish city that’s moved to Britain.”

When the UK and Ireland opened their labour markets to new EU members in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Poles and other central and eastern Europeans rushed to take up the opportunity to work and live abroad.

The Sun, however, says that this migration has led to the decline of cities such as Lodz – once a centre of the textile industry in Poland and known as the “Polish Manchester”.

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As Sun journalist Graeme Culliford claims, Poland’s third largest city is now witnessing its decline and fall, backing his claims with photographs of grim and desolate cityscapes and alcoholics standing idle on street corners.

“On Piotrkowska Street, which at three miles long is one of the longest high streets in the world, the cobbled thoroughfare is empty even in the middle of the day,” the journalist writes.

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The best selling newspaper in the UK goes on to claim that the city is suffering from a wave of westbound economic migrants, allegedly “a more destructive threat” than Nazi occupation during World War II.

“Half the adult population has left the city,” one Lodz inhabitant tells the tabloid.

“They are in Scotland, London and Bournemouth, where they have a beautiful flat, a nice TV, a car — things we cannot have here,” says a Lodz-based job centre employee.

“Nine years after it joined the European Union, Poland is facing a national crisis compounded by its people’s determination to find a better life beyond its borders,” the article concludes.

‘Bias’

According to Mayor Zdanowska, however, the journalist who wrote the report “has no idea what he is writing about,” and “shows Lodz in a very biased way” as part of a long-held editorial stance against immigration to the UK.

Of the claim that employers find it hard to hire IT specialists in the city, Mayor Zdanowska pointed out at a press conference on Monday that companies such as “Hewlett-Packard and Samsung have moved from other countries, including England, to Lodz”.

The Polish Embassy in London has responded rather coolly to the article.

“[We] may address the issue with the Sun, if the information contained in the article proves inaccurate,” spokesperson for the Polish Embassy to Britain Robert Szaniawski has told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

“It’s not particularly difficult to take photos of drunks and boarded-up retail shops in England either,” the spokesperson noted.

January 9, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Human Ashes used for painting?


Polish prosecutors are investigating a painting that allegedly contains human ashes taken from crematoria at the former Nazi German death camp of Majdanek.

Prior to an exhibition in late 2012 at the Martin Bryder Gallery in Lund, southern Sweden, artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff revealed that he had used ashes from the crematoria for a painting in the show.

Following a media outcry, the gallery closed the exhibition.

Swedish police began looking into the matter, but soon dropped their preliminary investigation.

The prosecutor’s office in Lublin is investigating the case in relation to article 262 of Poland’s Criminal Code.

Paragraph 1, which pertains to desecration of human remains, carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. Paragraph 2, which concerns thefts made from graves or places of rest of the dead, carries a maximum penalty of eight years.

Von Hausswolff allegedly took the ashes during a trip to Poland in 1989, when he visited the Majdanek Museum near Lublin. However, it was not until 2010 that he conceived the idea for the painting.

The Majdanek Museum has issued a statement arguing that “the Swedish artist certainly did not come into possession of the victims’ ashes in a legal manner.

“We hope that the authorities quickly determine whether there has been a theft and desecration of the remains of the victims.”

The museum acknowledged that “perhaps this is just an artistic provocation that simply deserves condemnation.”

It is estimated that 78,000 people died at Majdanek during the Second World War. The majority of the victims were Jewish.

January 9, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

This Day In History – Ella Gatner – Executed at Auschwitz

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On January 6, 1945 four female Jewish prisoners were hanged in the female camp of Auschwitz: Ella Gartner (in the pre-war picture), Róża Robota, Regina Safir and Estera Wajsblum.

They were condemned to death because they assisted in the uprising that broke out on October 7, 1944 in the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. They provided the Sonderkommando with explosives and munition from the depots of the Weichsel-Union-Metallwerke, where three of the women worked.

The execution had two stages. Two of the women were hanged during the evening roll call in the presence of the male and female prisoners who worked the night shift at Weichsel-Union. Two others were hanged after the return of the squad that worked the dayshift. The reason for the sentence was read by the Auschwitz camp commander SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Hössler. He screamed that all traitors will be destroyed in this manner. It was the last execution in Auschwitz.

January 6, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz, This Day In History | , , | Leave a comment

Travel Advice – Money

KRAKOW TOURS – Here is  a blog aimed at answering many of the questions that travelers have prior to arriving at a holiday destination for the first time. If you have a holiday already booked, or still in the planning stage, this information should prove very useful for you.

Currency Exchange.

Currency can be exchanged at both your departure and arrival airports, but expect to pay hefty commissions and/or obtain a low exchange rate. If you feel you must get your Zloty whilst in the UK then by far the best option is to pre-order from TRAVELEX online and collect it from your departure airport.

In Krakow, currency can be exchanged at hotels, banks and anywhere that you see a sign proclaiming ‘KANTOR’, Kantors will usually provide the best exchange rates and zero commission, but shop around as there can often be as much as 10% difference in the exchange rates offered.

Consistently the best rate available in Krakow is from a Kantor called ‘Grosz’ on Slawkowska, it is only 2om from the north west corner of the main square.

TIP: Try to avoid changing money at a Kantor on sundays, only the smaller independent ones are open, and they seem to all agree to an exchange rate for the day, that is much lower than you should be able to achieve. 

AVOID: Please avoid the Kantors signed CHANGE – KANTOR these are very prominent and look very smart and official, they are usually liveried in Orange or Blue. The rate they display would be the best available if it were real, they display the SELL rate, and if you realise your mistake after handing over your money they will not refund you. Travellers arriving by train will reach 2 of these Kantors before reaching the honest ones.

8th February 2013

Best Krakow Kantor Rates

4.90zł to £1 

4.15zł to €1

Prices

Since EU ascension and becoming a favoured tourist destination, prices in Poland have been on the rise, making the country less of a bargain than it was 5 years ago. Having said that, however, prices for food, drink, cultural venues and transport still remain comparably cheap in contrast to Western Europe, and especially when compared to the Eurozone for travelers from the UK.

In Krakow, expect to pay the highest prices in, and around, the main square. Venture to some of the many side streets and you’ll often find much better value for food, drink and indeed for shopping.

Tipping.

Things have changed a lot since the bad old days when everything had to be tipped. Today it is understood that you tip because the service was good. So if you were satisfied, leave a tip. However you have to bear in mind that catering staff, restaurants, clubs, etc are paid a very minimum wage so if you think it was worth it, add 10% to the bill as a tip, and try to pay it cash to your waiter/waitress.

When paying for a taxi, round up the bill. Generally taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, so if you do the driver will be surprised and happy, again if it was worth it tip. NO EFFORT NO TIP.

TIP: Be careful in a bar or restaurant when you hand over your cash to pay the bill. In Poland, if you say ‘thank you’ (dziękuje – ‘jen-koo-yeh’)  it can often be taken as a sign that you won’t be wanting any change back. This can prove expensive, say ‘proszę’ (prosheh) and leave the thank you until they return with your change.

Bartering.

If you intend to shop bazaars, open air markets or farms try bargaining. Accepting the first price is not a good idea there, but remember that price negotiations in Poland are far different from the bartering done in Arabic countries. With a little common sense and good humour you can still have a lot of fun and get a little knocked off the price.

Small Change.

Thinking of paying for your tram ticket with one of the 100zł notes in your pocket? Think again. Small shops, newsagents, public toilets and even the occasional fast food franchise or bar will often refuse to break a large note for you. as annoying as it is to carry coins, do carry small change for such moments.


January 5, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

2012 – Record numbers visit Auschwitz

Wayne Rooney - 1 of 1,480,000 visitors to Auschwitz in 2012

In 2012, there were 1,430,000 visitors to the grounds of the former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz.

This is a record number in the 65-years history of the Museum. What is important, more than one million people visited the Memorial annually in the last 6 years.

The first ten countries whose citizens visited the Auschwitz Memorial include: Poland (446,000), Great Britain (149,000), USA (97,000) and also Italy (84,000), Germany (74,000), Israel (68,000), France (62,000), Spain (54,000), Czech Republic (48,000) and South Korea (46,000).

January 4, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz Books – Online

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The Sketchbook from Auschwitz on Ebay

 

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A Girl from Schindlers List on Ebay, Signed Copy.

January 3, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

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