Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps, has died aged 106.
Sir Nicholas, then a stockbroker, arranged for trains to carry Jewish children out of occupied Prague.
The prime minister described him as a “great man” and the chief rabbi praised his “exceptional courage”.
He died on the anniversary of the departure of a train in 1939 carrying the largest number of children – 241.
His son-in-law Stephen Watson said he died peacefully in his sleep at Wexham Hospital, Slough.
Sir Nicholas brought the children to Britain, battling bureaucracy at both ends, saving them from almost certain death, and then kept quiet about his exploits for a half-century.
He organised a total of eight trains from Prague, with some other forms of transport also set up from Vienna.
A jubilee edition of the 25th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków began on Thursday, bringing thousands of visitors to the city.
This year’s edition will see as many as 300 events, led by artists and speakers from countries including Israel, the US, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Poland.
Concerts, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, guided tours and film screenings (among the latter special showings of Oscar-winning Polish movie ‘Ida’) are all in store.
The programme is divided into four sections: Classic, Off (Offbeat), Ideas and Art.
This year, organisers are placing a special emphasis on Kraków’s Kazimierz quarter, the district that for many centuries was the centre of Jewish life in the city.
As always, the ‘Shalom on Szeroka’ open-air concert will help wrap up the festival on Saturday 4 July, although there will also be some events on Sunday 5 July.
For the full programme, see the festival’s official Jewish Cultural festival website.
Two British teenagers have “apologised unreservedly” for “picking up items without thinking” from the former Auschwitz death camp, their Cambridge school says.
The Perse School says the 17-year-old boys “attempted to keep some items which they had found on the ground”.
They were detained at the site on Monday and released with suspended prison sentences on Tuesday.
Polish police said the boys denied any wrongdoing, and were spared a fine.
The teenagers were charged with unlawfully possessing items of special cultural importance, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. They were not made to pay a fine because they were not in employment.
The BBC’s Adam Easton in Warsaw said that, as with similar cases in the past, the boys were given suspended prison sentences and released.
“Incidents like this happen about once or twice a year, museum staff said, despite the fact notices warn visitors not to pick anything up.”
A Kraków edition of the classic game Monopoly is due to be released this autumn, and the most expensive and cheapest properties have already been decided in a public vote.
The first Warsaw edition of Monopoly was released in 1992, and Gdańsk was given its own version in November 2014. Kraków joins the group 80 years after the first ever edition was released in the US in 1935, when Atlantic City served as the prototype.
Why are we so fascinated by Auschwitz? ‘Dark tourism’ to ‘death sites’ helps us deal with our mortality, study reveals
Researchers conducted interviews at ‘dystopian dark tourist’ spots
These include Charles Manson ‘Helter Skelter’ tour and H.R Giger Museum
Study suggest people find it easier to deal with death the more they see it
And by attempting to understand why people kill can help tourists feel more secure about death and violence
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush made an unannounced stop in Krakow on Wednesday to tour the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
Bush toured the camp with wife, Columba, Bloomberg confirmed. He didn’t invite the roughly 10 reporters from the U.S. and Europe following the former Florida governor on his five-day, three-country tour, out of respect for the site and those affected, a Bush aide said.
More than 1 million people, mostly Jewish prisoners, died at the camp during World War II.
Bush, who is expected to announce his plans to run for president on Monday in Miami, also has plans to meet top political leaders in each of the three countries he’s visiting.
In Poland on Thursday, Bush will meet with President Bronisław Komorowski; the newly elected president, Andrzej Duda; Radek Sikorski, the head of the lower house of the Polish parliament; and Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna.
5. The life-saving escapee
Alfréd Wetzler’s escape from Nazi death camp Auschwitz is possibly the most important prison escape in history.
Wetzler, a Slovakian jew, escaped from Auschwitz with fellow inmate Rudolf Vrba in April 1944 by hiding in a wood pile that other inmates soaked with tobacco and gasoline to fool guard dogs.
After four nights hiding among the wood, the two men donned stolen suits and overcoats and began a 80 mile journey to the Polish border with Slovakia.
In his pockets, Wetzler carried a report on the inner workings of the death camp, including a ground plan, details of the gas chambers, and a label from a canister of Zyklon B – the gas that the Nazi’s used to kill millions of inmates. It was the first detailed report about Auschwitz that the Allies regarded as credible, and led to the bombing of buildings that housed Nazi officials who dealt with the railway deportations.
120,000 Hungarian Jews are said to have been saved as a result.
‘My beautiful Auschwitz childhood': Daughter of camp commandant Rudolph Hoess describes life growing up next to a concentration camp – and how she has hidden her identity for decades
Ingebirgitt Hannah Hoess was six when father Rudolf headed Auschwitz
Had a ‘beautiful childhood’ while Holocaust happened beyond garden wall
At least 1.2million Jews were murdered at infamous death camp in Poland
Claims she didn’t know about deaths and lived under an assumed name
Suffers from headaches – as her father did – when she thinks of Holocaust
The daughter of Nazi death camp commander Rudolf Hoess has broken decades of silence and spoken of having to accept and conceal that her father was one of history’s most prolific mass murderers.
Although no date has been set, church leaders in Poland hope Pope Francis will visit the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz during a July 2016 visit to Poland for World Youth Day.
“We hope Pope Francis will come to Auschwitz and deliver a warning to the world by again demonstrating the horrors of war and the camps, so they’ll never recur,” Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI.
An administration official at the Auschwitz Museum, Jolanta Kozuch, told Catholic News Service May 28 a date had not yet been agreed upon for a stopover by Pope Francis at the camp, 20 miles west of Krakow, where 1.2 million mostly Jewish prisoners died at German hands in 1940-45.
Retired Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, a former bishops’ conference general secretary who now lives in Krakow, told CNS he hoped more details would be available shortly.
“Any visit by the head of the Catholic Church to Auschwitz, in the footsteps of John Paul II in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006, would always have huge significance,” Bishop Pieronek told CNS May 28. “This is a place of great importance for the whole of humanity, so it would be received very well if the pope came here to pray and commemorate.”
Cardinal Dziwisz spoke to KAI about preparations for July 26-31, 2016, World Youth Day in his diocese. He said bishops and youth groups from abroad were arriving in Krakow daily to check on preparations.
He will also certainly visit a hospital or home for the poor, in addition to other points in his program. But many other groups, such as the students of Europe, are also getting in touch and hoping to have a moment for themselves with him,” he said.
During his visit for World Youth Day, Pope Francis is scheduled to lead a Way of the Cross procession from the Krakow’s Divine Mercy Sanctuary, a prayer vigil on youth issues near the Wieliczka Salt Mine and a final Mass in the city’s Blonia Park.
The cardinal said the program had been largely based on the success of World Youth Day at Poland’s Jasna Gora national sanctuary in 1991, but had also taken account of Pope Francis’ personal devotion to the Divine Mercy cult centered in Krakow’s Lagiewniki suburb.
He also said he had asked Poland’s foreign minister to reduce visa charges for the 300,000 youngsters expected from Russia, Ukraine and other countries to the east.
In a May 27 report, KAI said World Youth Day organizers were seeking 20,000 volunteers from Poland and abroad to help with the event, which was expected to attract up to 2.5 million people, including 35,000 from the United States.
The agency added that the pope had been asked to visit other locations in Poland to mark the 1050th anniversary of the country’s Christian conversion, including Jasna Gora and the capital, Warsaw, and its oldest Catholic see at Gniezno.
In a Jan. 27 Twitter message to mark the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, the pope said Auschwitz “cries out with the pain of immense suffering and pleads for a future of respect, peace and encounter among peoples.”
KRAKOW TOURS – Infamous for its close involvement with the Nazi war machine and some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, the German firm IG Farben opened a new factory close to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi occupied Poland on 21st May, 1942.
IG Farben was probably the most well known corporate participant in the Holocaust, and the company’s history sheds a chilling light on how genocide became tied in with economics and business.
Founded in Germany in 1925, the IG (Interessengemeinschaft) conglomerate quickly became the largest syndicate in Germany and the biggest chemical concern in the world, until its dissolution in 1945. The company grew out of a merger of German chemical, pharmaceutical and dye manufacturers, including BASF Aktiengesellschaft, Bayer AG and Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft.
Held up as an example of Germany’s ability to achieve economic self-sufficiency in the inter-War years, IG Farben had always been popular with the country’s government. The election of the Nazi Party in 1933 saw IG Farben’s influence grow even more. As the biggest producer of synthetic rubber, and a major producer of explosives, synthetic fuels and other vital items, the company was crucial to the economic and military ambitions of the Nazi party. IG Farben enjoyed state backing when it came to the allocation of raw materials, labour and credit. IG Farben representatives were also employed in important positions within the Nazi government.
After the start of the Second World War, demand for synthetic fuels and rubber quickly started to exceed supply. It was decided to build two new plants, one of which would be located close to Auschwitz, the largest death camp in Europe.
Opened in 1940, as Hitler’s ‘final solution’ came into full effect, Auschwitz was built on a former military base in occupied southern Poland, close to the town of Krakow. Initially conceived as a detention centre for Polish citizens arrested after Germany invaded the country in 1939, the location of the camp, at the centre of the German occupied territories in Europe and close to a host of transport networks, meant it quickly expanded into something far more horrific.
The IG Farben factory was situated close to Auschwitz so it could exploit Jewish slave labour in its oil and rubber production plant. In total, some 300,000 detainees from Auschwitz were employed in IG Farben’s workforce, supplying the company with free labour. The company housed the workers in its own concentration camp, with the horrendous conditions there and in the factory leading to an estimated 30,000 deaths. On top of this, an unknown amount of workers deemed unfit to continue working at the factory were sent to the death camp at Auschwitz.
Alongside the brutal conditions of the labour camp, IG Farben also sanctioned drug experiments on live, healthy inmates. These experiments took place at Auschwitz, but were also sanctioned at other concentration camps by IG Farben’s pharmaceutical subsidiaries. Documents survive revealing a correspondence between an employee of Bayer Leverkusen (a subsidiary of IG Farben at the time) and the commander of Auschwitz, negotiating the sale of 150 female prisoners for the sake of medical experimentation. The chemical giant was so entwined in the Nazi death machine that the Zyklon B gas used in Nazi death camps was produced by another of IG Farben’s subsidiaries.
Following the German defeat in the Second World War, IG Farben came under the control of the Allied Powers. Several of the company’s officials were convicted for the inhumane treatment of prisoners and use of slave labour. The company itself was dissolved into three separate divisions, Hoescht, Bayer, and BASF.
KRAKOW TOURS – A unique WWII plane went on display at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków on Friday, 70 years after victory was declared in Europe.
The Caudron-Renault CR.714 Cyclone, which was used by Poles in the defence of France, is the only fully intact example of its kind.
Owing to technical faults, the French military prohibited the use of the planes.
Nevertheless, in June 1940, during Nazi Germany’s attack on France, Polish pilots used the planes to shoot down at least 12 enemy aircraft.
The surviving plane is in Kraków on a long-term deposit thanks to the Finnish Army.
The museum, which counts over 200 aircraft in its collection, was named as one of the top ten aviation museums in the world by CNN
We’ve just reached another milestone. So i thought i’d play with the spreadsheet a little to produce some stats for the previous 5 years.
Firstly our new milestone;
1000 trips to Auschwitz Memorial / Muzeum Auschwitz
6510 Total guests
from 53 different countries (no Germans yet)
and 36 different American States
741 trips to the Wieliczka Salt Mine
Busiest week – ‘week 40 – 2014′ with 144 guests
5210 packed lunches
10,420 sandwiches made
over 900 trips to Lidl
Approximately 200,000 km driven
2 minor bumps
roadkill includes 2 cats and a chicken (and nearly a deer)
1 very pleased and proud Phil.
KRAKOW TOURS – Tomorrow, southern Poland’s most glorious city joins the premier league of destinations served from Heathrow Terminal 5 by British Airways. BA uses its precious slots only on routes that it believes will be attractive to business travellers so the new link, which offers connections from around the globe, testifies to the rising business profile of Krakow, (too) often described as the “new Prague”.
Neil Taylor, who pioneered tourism to Poland and other Eastern Bloc nations, says: “This could be part of a BA resurgence to prove that some towns can justify a higher level of service than that offered on budget airlines. Citybreak operators will certainly be pleased that another serious destination for them has become available and conference organisers will be equally pleased as neither work happily with budget airlines.”
Krakow has a long, distinguished history as one of the great cities of Europe. Stand in its magnificent medieval Market Square, where coronations took place when it was Poland’s capital, and on every side you can see architectural master- pieces from centuries past. Most dominant is the Gothic basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary or Kosciol Mariacki, with its celebrated tower from where the hejnal or bugle call is performed on the hour, every hour – breaking off sharply in mid note in memory of the fatal Tatar arrow that pierced the throat of the bugler, who was raising the alarm with his call in 1241 as Mongols besieged the city.
One reason the centre of Krakow has been so beautifully preserved is the four lost decades following the Second World War. Until 1989, Poland was effectively under the stifling control of Moscow: the Warsaw Pact, embracing nations from East Germany to Bulgaria, was a union of unwilling participants who were prevented from access to the free market of the West. That, at least, was the idea – though Poles proved more adept than most at gaining access to the West, and the trading skills of some was the stuff of legends.
Today, the notion that ambitious young Polish people tend to seek their fortunes elsewhere in Europe has been overturned. The city is styling itself as Poland’s Silicon Valley, and is attracting highly skilled IT and R&D professionals – with other businesses locking into the city’s growth strategy.
UBS set up an office in Krakow in 2007. “We have attracted many talented individuals who have contributed to the success of our firm,” says Michal Stepien, the general manager. “Our operation is constantly expanding.”
Just as tourists find prices in Krakow gratifyingly low, the city is an inexpensive place to do business. Thanks partly to the wealth of hotels, Krakow is becoming a noted trade fair and convention city. The EXPO Krakow complex, a short distance east of the city centre, this year hosts Infrasnow, dealing with equipment for winter-sports resorts, in September; Krakow’s International Book Fair in the following month; and Horeca, for hotel, retail and catering establishments, in November.
The city’s harmonious jumble of architectural styles – CORBIS Off-duty, the attractions are endless. Lining the Market Square are palaces, cafes and restaurants built in a harmonious jumble of Mannerist, Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance and even Neo-classical styles. Since Krakow served as European capital of culture in the Millennium year, 2000, it has lured avant-garde artists seeking freedom and inspiration.
A leading gallery, ICC (mck.krakow. pl), is currently exhibiting until June an artistic dialogue between Brazilian photographer Cristiano Mascaro and Polish artist Slawomir Rumiak, and culture abounds on all sides. And even beneath you lies just one of a plethora of museums which opened in 2010. Spread over 4,000 square metres underneath the Market Square, this multi media museum (mhk.pl) displays treasures which relate the turbulent history of Krakow.
Back at the airport – which is named after the city’s most celebrated son, Pope John-Paul II – the trajectory of Krakow is clear from the latest figures. It is the biggest regional airport in Poland, and last year saw its best ever year. This was helped by a 7 per cent increase in traffic to and from its biggest market: London, with a record-breaking 402,000 passengers on the route. The new British Airways link means 2015 stands to be even more successful.