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‘Dark tourism’ to ‘death sites’ like Auschwitz

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

via ‘Dark tourism’ to ‘death sites’ like Auschwitz helps us deal with mortality | Daily Mail Online.

June 10, 2015 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Jeb Bush Tours Auschwitz

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.

via Jeb Bush Tours Auschwitz – Bloomberg Politics.

June 10, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, News | , , , | Leave a comment

KRAKOW

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice | , , , | Leave a comment

Six of the most audacious prison escapes ever

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.

via Six of the most audacious prison escapes ever – Telegraph.

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, Events | Leave a comment

Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence

Tripadvisor certificate of excellence

Krakow Tours 2015

CoE 2015

June 2, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

Rudolph Hoess’ daughter and her life near Auschwitz.

Krakow Tours

‘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.

via Rudolph Hoess’ daughter Ingebirgitt talks of life near Auschwitz concentration camp | Daily Mail Online.

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz | , | Leave a comment

Pope Francis expected to visit Auschwitz/Birkenau

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.

Pope to visit Auschwitz

“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.”

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

IG Farben Opens Factory at Auschwitz #krakowtours

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-Factory-at-Auschwitz

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.

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, This Day In History | , , | Leave a comment

Polish Aviation Museum gains unique WWII plane

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.

 

Caudron-Renault CR.714 Cyclone

Caudron-Renault CR.714 Cyclone

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

via Polish Aviation Museum gains unique WWII plane – Thenews.pl :: News from Poland.

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , | Leave a comment

KRAKOW TOURS’ 1000th TRIP TO AUSCHWITZ

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.

May 4, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, This Day In History, Tour Information | Leave a comment

Europe’s forgotten city back in premier league

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”.

Krakow - Main Square

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.

via Europe’s forgotten city back in premier league – Business – News – The Independent.

May 1, 2015 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz ‘may turn away people’ amid record visits

Over 250,000 people visited the former Nazi concentration camp in January-March this year

Birkenau Watch Tower

The former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz is attracting so many visitors people may have to be turned away, staff there have warned.

The Polish site, now a museum and memorial, saw a 40 per cent increase in visits in the first three months of 2015, compared with the previous year.

Staff advise people wishing to visit to book in advance online.

More than a million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz during World War Two.

“We already see that on particular hours, long waiting may be necessary in order to enter the former camp,” said Andrzej Kacorzyk, the museum’s deputy director.

“If the attendance continues to grow in such a dynamic way in the months to follow, it may result in the fact that not all persons willing to enter the former camp and learn about the history of Auschwitz in its authentic space will be able to do it.”

This year the death camp marked 70 years since its liberation by Soviet soldiers, a possible explanation for the surge in visitors.

But attendances had already been growing, with a record 1.5m people visiting in 2014.

The news came as a former Nazi SS guard at the camp began the second day of his trial on charges of being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews.

Oskar Groening, 93, has admitted he was “morally” guilty but said it was up to the court to decide whether he was guilty under criminal law.

via Auschwitz ‘may turn away people’ amid record visits – BBC News.

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, Krakow Travel Advice, News | Leave a comment

‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ trial begins in Germany – BBC News

A 93-year-old former Nazi SS guard, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, has admitted he is “morally guilty”.

Oskar Groening

Oskar Groening spoke at the beginning of his trial for being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews at the concentration camp.

He described his role of counting money confiscated from new arrivals and said he witnessed mass killings, but denied any direct role in the genocide.

If found guilty he could face three to 15 years in prison.

via ‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ trial begins in Germany – BBC News.

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Owns Schindler’s List?

A preliminary hearing starts Wednesday in Jerusalem in a legal case that pits the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre against the estate of Oskar Schindler’s widow to decide who owns the legacy of the man who saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazis.

Schindlers List

Who owns Schindler’s list? That is the question to be decided by a Jerusalem court, which holds a preliminary hearing on the case on April 15. A document from almost exactly 70 years ago lies at the heart of the legal battle – dated April 18, 1945, it lists the names of 801 Jewish workers who German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved from extermination by asking the Nazi authorities to allow them to work at his factories.

The rights to this document and others are being claimed by both Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial centre and Erika Rosenberg, who is both a beneficiary and the executor of the estate of Emilie Schindler, Oskar’s wife.

Yad Vashem, which describes itself as the Jewish people’s “living memorial to the Holocaust”, is dedicated to safeguarding the remembrance of the tragedy for future generations. In 1999 the Jerusalem-based centre received a suitcase sent from Germany containing thousands of documents, including two of the four remaining copies of Schindler’s list, of which there were originally seven copies typed on onionskin paper.

The suitcase – of incalculable historical and financial value – was in the possession of Anne-Marie Staehr, who was once Oskar Schindler’s mistress. Schindler left for Argentina with his wife after the war, returning alone to Germany in 1957, where he died in anonymity in October 1974.

The suitcase and the list found its way to the press in Germany, where it made headlines, and was eventually sent to Yad Vashem by German journalist Ulrich Sahm, a Jerusalem resident and a former correspondent for the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” newspaper.

On these events, both warring parties agree. But the two sides differ on who held the rightful claim to the documents prior to their arrival in Israel.

Rosenberg alleges that Staehr absconded with the documents from Schindler’s home in Frankfurt after his death and kept them in the suitcase until her own death in 1984. Forgotten in the attic of her house in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, they were found 15 years later by Staehr’s son.

Emilie Schindler, who still lives in Argentina, learned of the existence of the documents through the media. She asked Rosenberg, then her friend and biographer, to retrieve them and bring them to her in Buenos Aires. But when Rosenberg confronted the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” to demand it hand over the documents, she was told the suitcase had already been sent to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

The Israeli news daily “Haaretz” cites Rosenberg as saying that Emilie fell ill over the affair, and that she called it “a huge injustice”. “I saved Jews, together with my husband, and now the Jews have taken the suitcase away from me. You must demand it, even after my death,” she allegedly said.

In 2001 Emilie returned to Germany, where she died without leaving any descendents. Like her husband, she was posthumously bestowed with the title of “Righteous Among the Nations”, the highest civilian honour that Israel grants to Gentiles who saved Jews during World War II.

As the designated executor of Emilie Schindler’s estate, Rosenberg sought in vain to fulfill her wishes by retrieving the documents. In 2013 she filed a legal suit against Yad Vashem, which she accused of theft.

Rosenberg’s lawyer, Naor Yair Maman, makes a distinction between the legal case and its historical ramifications.

“Even if you believe that, from the historical-academic perspective, it would be preferable that the documents remain in Yad Vashem, you have no right whatsoever to claim title to someone else’s property,” he told AFP.

Yad Vashem says it obtained the documents legally and has always acted with transparency. The memorial centre contends that Oskar Schindler gave the suitcase in question to Staehr voluntarily – and that it had, therefore, never belonged to Emilie.

“Yad Vashem holds the documents lawfully and has acted the whole time openly and publicly,” it said in a statement to AFP, adding that it was opposed to “trading in Holocaust-era documents”. Citing their historical value, the centre said the documents must remain in the public domain.

Yad Vashem requested a dismissal of the charges in February, a request that was denied by the Jerusalem District Court.

“We will hold our debate with Rosenberg in court to ensure these documents do not reach the private hands of those who are not their legal owners and whose interests are unclear,” Yad Vashem subsequently vowed.

Rosenberg has always defended her intentions, saying she only wants to “preserve, protect and restore the historical data”.

In July 2013, another copy of Schindler’s list – which notably inspired the eponymous film by American director Steven Spielberg – was sold on eBay for $3 million.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, News, This Day In History | , , , | Leave a comment

Irena Sendler

When we hear stories about people who saved the Jewish people during the Holocaust, we always hear about the men. Everyone knows who Oskar Schindler is yet very few know who Irena Sendler is, even though she saved over 1,500 more Jews than Schindler.

Irena Sendler was born Irena Krzyżanowska on February 15, 1910 in Warsaw, Poland to Dr.Stanisław Krzyżanowski, and his wife, Janina. Her father died in February 1917 from typhus that he had caught while treating patients who others refused to treat for fear of catching the disease, among them many Jewish patients.

In 1939 when the Germans first invaded Poland, she started small by giving much needed food and shelter to Jews Once the Warsaw Ghetto was erected in 1940, Sendler could no longer help isolated Jews, so she started saving children. Sendler used her papers as a Polish social worker and papers from one of the workers of the Contagious Disease Department to enter the Warsaw Ghetto. Each time she entered the ghetto she left with the children.
She soon had a network of 10 people working with her. They made sure to inform the families caring for the rescued children that they must return them to their Jewish families after the war. To ensure this she kept very detailed records as to where each child was placed in jars buried in a neighbor’s backyard.

On October 20, 1943, Sendler was arrested and was placed in the notorious Piawiak prison, where she was constantly questioned and tortured. During the questioning, she had her legs and feet fractured. She refused to answer and was sentenced to death. Her executioner was bribed by others and helped her escape. Regardless, The Germans boisterously broadcast her execution. Posters were put up all over the city with the false news of her death.

She lived hidden for the remaining years of the war, just like the children she rescued. When the war was finally over, she dug up the bottles and began the job of finding the children and trying to find a living parent. Almost all the parents of the children Sendler had saved, died at the Treblinka death camp. Some children were sent to Israel and many others were adopted by Polish families.

Sendler was announced as the 2003 winner of the Jan Karski award for Valor and Courage. The announcement was made on July 24, 2003 and the award ceremony took place later that year in October 23 in Washington, D.C. She died on May 12 , 2008 in Warsaw, Poland.

During Passover, as the Jewish community celebrates their cultures and freedom from slavery, let us remember a woman and her jars who saved so many during the Holocaust.

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, This Day In History | , , , | Leave a comment

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