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November 30, 2015 Posted by | Events, Recommendations | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘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

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

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

‘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

Thank You Letter

Krakow Tours, Auschwitz recommendation

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz, Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Wedding Picture – National Geographic

This Month in Photo of the Day: City Pictures

Kazimierz, the historical Jewish quarter of Krakow, provides a colorful backdrop for an impromptu wedding shoot. “This wonderful place is the Jewish district,” Your Shot contributor G. Dzhevelieva says. “It keeps so much paint and history between the streets. Nowadays it’s the most interesting art place in Poland.”

via Wedding Picture –- Poland Photo — National Geographic Photo of the Day.

August 26, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pope John Paul II set for Sainthood

Pope John Paul II looks at a white dove freed at the end of the Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square, Vatican, 30 January 2005

John Paul II could be declared a saint this year after a Vatican committee approved a second miracle attributed to the Polish pope’s intercession.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled an “inexplicable recovery” on 1 May 2011 was due to the late Pope’s intercession, Ansa reported.

Earlier that same day he had been beatified after a first miracle was attributed to his intervention.

Pope Francis must now give his approval before a canonisation date is set.

Canonisation is the final step in the official process that declares a deceased person to be a saint.

At a plenary meeting of the Congregation on Tuesday, cardinals and bishops mooted a canonisation ceremony taking place in December, sources told Ansa.

Pope John Paul II at St Peter's Square, Vatican - 2 June 2000
The Polish pope reformed the sainthood process in 1983

One possible date would be 8 December, on which Catholics celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which this year falls on a Sunday.

John Paul II could be canonised at the same time as John XXIII, Vatican sources suggested. Venerated by Catholics as “the good pope”, John XXIII was elected in 1958 and convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962, but died the following year before it was finished.

Canonisation requires the attribution of one further miracle to the intercession of the candidate after they have been beatified.

The Vatican has not revealed details about the second miracle in John Paul II’s case.

It was reportedly deemed an “inexplicable recovery” by a panel of doctors before being approved last month by a board of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ theologians.

John Paul II died in 2005 aged 84 and was beatified by his successor Benedict XVI in May 2011.

Among a crowd hundreds of thousands strong on St Peter’s Square was French nun Marie Simon-Pierre, who says she was cured of Parkinson’s Disease after praying for the intervention of the late pope little more than a month after he died.

Some questioned the Church’s speed in beatifying John Paul II just six years after his death.

Although widely regarded as one of the great popes of modern times, his 26-year pontificate was tarnished by his handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the global Church.

Critics say other of the Church’s deep-seated problems – such as its dysfunctional management and financial scandals at the Vatican bank – stem from shortcomings of his pontificate.

John Paul II reformed the sainthood process in 1983, making it faster, simpler, and cheaper. The office of “Devil’s advocate” – an official whose job was to try to knock down the case for sainthood – was eliminated, and the required number of miracles was dropped.

The idea was to lift up contemporary role models of holiness in order to convince a jaded secular world that sanctity is alive in the here and now, says veteran Vatican analyst John Allen.

The result was that John Paul II beatified and canonised more people than all previous popes combined.

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

Animated History of Poland

Animated History of Poland [FULL VERSION] from styczek on Vimeo.

May 19, 2013 Posted by | This Day In History | , , , | Leave a comment

Alleged Auschwitz Guard Arrested

A 93-year-old man who was deported from the U.S. for lying about his Nazi past was arrested by German authorities Monday on allegations he served as an Auschwitz death camp guard, Stuttgart prosecutors said.

Hans Lipschis was taken into custody after authorities concluded there was “compelling evidence” he was involved in crimes at Auschwitz while there from 1941 to 1945, prosecutor Claudia Krauth said.

Lipschis has acknowledged being assigned to an SS guard unit at Auschwitz but maintains he only served as a cook and was not involved in any war crimes.

Krauth said, however, that a judge upheld her office’s request for an arrest warrant after concluding there was enough evidence to hold him before charges on accessory to murder are brought. Bringing formal charges, a process similar to a U.S. grand jury indictment, would take another two months, she said.

In the meantime, Krauth said a doctor has confirmed Lipschis’ health remains good enough for him to be kept in detention.

Lipschis does not currently have an attorney, and a public defender has not yet been appointed, she said.

Lipschis was deported from the U.S. in 1983 for lying about his Nazi past when he immigrated to Chicago in the 1950s after the war.

With no evidence linking him to specific war crimes, however, it was impossible under previous German law to bring charges against him in Germany.

But the case is now being pursued on the same legal theory used to prosecute former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died last year while appealing his 2011 conviction in Germany for accessory to murder on the grounds that he served as a guard at the Sobibor death camp.

Under the new line of thinking, even without proof of participation in a specific crime, a person who served at a death camp can be charged with accessory to murder because the camp’s sole function was to kill people.

Even though the Demjanjuk conviction is not considered legally binding because he died before his appeals were exhausted, the special German prosecutors’ office that deals with Nazi crimes has said that about 50 other people in the same category are being investigated.

Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi hunter with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the arrest of Lipschis — who is No. 4 on his current list of “most wanted Nazi war criminals” — a good start.

“This is a very positive step, we welcome the arrest,” he said in a telephone interview from Israel. “I hope this will only be the first of many arrests, trials and convictions of death camp guards.”

In an interview last month with Die Welt newspaper at his home in southwestern Germany, Lipschis said he spent his entire time as a cook and had witnessed none of the atrocities. He did say, however, that he “heard about” what was going on.

About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz camp complex between 1940 and 1945.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , | Leave a comment

Surviving Auschwitz

KRAKOW TOURS: Seventy years ago today a Nazi train was stopped by resisters as it travelled from Flanders to Auschwitz.

Althea Williams tells the story of a survivor.

Kazerne Dossin, a former infantry barracks, during its use as a detention centre in 1942.

Kazerne Dossin, a former infantry barracks, during its use as a detention centre in 1942.On the night of April 19th, 1943 a train pulled out of Mechelen, a small town in Belgium. It carried 1,631 men, women and children and was the 20th convoy to leave the infamous Kazerne Dossin assembly camp for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Up to that point, of the 18,000 people who had already made the journey only a handful had escaped.

This time three young men, Youra Livschitz, Robert Maistriau and Jean Frankelmon, students at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, lay in wait for the train. Ten miles down the line, they flagged down the convoy using a lamp covered with red silk to resemble a warning light. Armed with just two pairs of pliers and a single pistol, they cut through the barbed wire that secured the heavy bolts on the outside of each cattle car.  Two hundred and thirty-seven Jewish deportees took their chance, pushing themselves through tiny windows, or wrenching the doors aside, falling or leaping into the dark. The Germans fired upon the fleeing shadows and at the easier targets of those who waited for their loved ones to follow.

In one of the carriages were Channa Gronowski and her 11-year-old son, Simon. As the train accelerated again, escape seemed impossible. But the mood in the carriage had changed and men broke open the lock on the door. Channa lowered Simon by his shoulders onto the footrail. He remembers his mother hesitating, saying: ‘No, the train’s going too fast!’ But Simon had jumped, rolling down the embankment. He leapt to his feet unhurt and waited for his mother to follow. The train halted and shots rang out. Three people fell. After 20 minutes of shooting and searching, the train departed and with it Simon’s mother.

Simon ran all night, through woods and over fields. He intended to reach Brussels and find his father, Leon, absent when the Germans had raided their home. He knew he risked capture but he needed help so he knocked on a door. His clothes torn and covered in mud, he said he had been playing with friends and had got lost. He was taken to the local police officer; Simon was sure he would be arrested. Jan Aerts had indeed guessed Simon came from the train but he had no intention of betraying him. He took him home and his wife fed him and washed and mended his clothes. The policeman helped Simon catch a train back to Brussels and he was finally reunited with his father, although they spent the remaining years of the war hidden in separate locations. Channa Gronowski was sent to the gas chambers on arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Simon’s sister Ita, 18, was sent on a later convoy and was also killed at Auschwitz.

At the Liberation, Leon Gronowski wrote: ‘People flood the streets, wild with joy; crying, laughing, singing, embracing each other. But I am miserable … My loved ones are still in the camps … I wander through the streets aimlessly; my heart is bleeding’. Ignorant of his wife and daughter’s fate he died of pulmonary disease in June 1945.

A total of 25,833 Jews and over 352 Roma were deported from Kazerne Dossin. Of the 233 people who attempted escape from the 20th convoy, 26 were shot that night. One hundred and eighteen got away of whom 89 were recaptured, 79 of these were deported on later convoys and 153 survived Auschwitz-Birkenau.

As for the three who stopped the train, Youra Livschitz was captured and executed in February 1944 and Jean Frankelmon was arrested soon after and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was liberated in May 1945. He died in 1977. Robert Maistriau was arrested in March 1944. He was liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945 and lived until 2008.

Today Simon Gronowski lives in Brussels and practises as a lawyer. He has two children and four grand-children. For over 50 years he hardly talked about his past but, following a chance meeting between his daughter and Robert Maistriau’s son, he was persuaded to overcome his reluctance to speak publicly about his experience. He has now written a book and speaks regularly in schools.

In the context of the Belgian occupation, when the number of active resisters is thought to have amounted to only about six per cent of the population and helping escapees was punishable, Jan Aerts and his wife were unusual people. Simon Gronowski was fortunate to have encountered them.

Gronowski’s story and those of many others are related in the new Kazerne Dossin Museum and Documentation Centre of the Holocaust and Human Rights, one of the most ambitious in Europe. The Kazerne Dossin replaces a smaller museum about deportation and the Resistance; the Flemish government agreed to finance the 25 million euros necessary to renovate the previous museum on the condition that its scope and aims were completely revised. It cited the dwindling number of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and its wish to show that Flanders not only recognises its part in the Nazi period but intends to contribute to the study of the mechanisms of exclusion, intolerance and racism in today’s society. The new museum owes its growing reputation to its efforts to render the Holocaust relevant to a younger public, drawing attention to the underlying conditions that can lead to human rights’ violations.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz, This Day In History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow: Small but perfectly formed

KRAKOW TOURS: A little internet access can be a dangerous thing. This became apparent while planning a trip to Poland’s second-largest city, Krakow. I email my father a link to a restaurant’s website with the message: “I booked us a table here on Saturday night.”

Three minutes later he replies: “I hope everyone likes pike stew.”

They don’t. I’m embarking on a weekend with a few fussy eaters and keeping the menu at this Polish TV chef-run restaurant a secret is proving difficult. I found rave reviews online, the same place my father is now accessing the menu and gagging about pike stew. Therein lies the rub of travel in our online age: you can take and you can give but you can’t please everyone.

We plan Krakow with military precision involving numerous emails before flights and apartments are booked. In the weeks before take-off, I copy and paste articles into my smartphone’s notepad. I email myself the names of bars and directions to the train station.

via Krakow: Small but perfectly formed for a long weekend – Travel News | Ireland & World Travel Advice & Tips | The Irish Tim – Sat, Apr 06, 2013.

April 7, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations | , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy to Reopen

KRAKOW TOURS: Drawers full of surprises, voices on an old phone, and new rooms that will transport visitors back in time – the famed Pharmacy Under the Eagle will reopen after a major refit in March, on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.

The Pharmacy Under the Eagle (Apteka Pod Orłem) was the only gentile business that the Nazis allowed to continue operating in the Jewish ghetto. Its owner, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, helped save many lives and is recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. His staff also risked their lives to help those trapped in the ghetto.

Situated on Plac Bohaterów Getta (formerly Plac Zgody), the Pharmacy Under the Eagle kept people alive by distributing medications for free, as well as providing tranquilisers to help keep hidden children quiet during Gestapo raids and hair dye to aid escapes.

via Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy to Reopen After Major Refit » Krakow Post.

March 12, 2013 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News, This Day In History | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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