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Harris Jazz Bar, Krakow – In Europe’s Top 10.

Harris

According to The Guardian

Jazz spread like wildfire in Europe in the early 1920s and Poland joined the swing explosion with enthusiasm, merging it with its own fiddle-based traditions.

But the second world war put paid to all the fun. After the war, amid Stalin’s repression, jazz came to symbolise freedom and resistance, so in many ways has a greater resonance here than in the UK, say.

Nowadays such is the audience for the genre that top US jazz acts often play several dates in the country. There is boundless local and national talent, such as pianist Paweł Kaczmarczyk, who’s appearing at the club on 6 February, who have risen to the top at clubs such as Harris and U-Muniaka in Kraków.

These are small places (both about 70 capacity) in near-1,000-year-old brick cellars with bars in adjacent rooms. Harris is on the hugely atmospheric Market Square and lays on mainstream jazz, funk and blues, good food (international mains from £3) and a boisterous vibe. On many nights it’s free of charge.

Admission €5 (€10 for name international acts), mid-week jam sessions free entry, beer from €2.50, booking advised at weekends, 28 Market Square, +12 421 57 41, harris.krakow.pl 

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1935: World’s First Female Rabbi Is Ordained, in Germany

1935: World’s First Female Rabbi Is Ordained, in Germany

Regina Jonas remained outside the Orthodox establishment, but provided spiritual services in the concentration camps where she wound up and died.

Regina Jonas was ordained as a rabbi in Offenbach am Main, Germany. With an ordination certificate signed by the head of Germany’s Liberal Rabbis’ Association, Jonas is thought to be the first woman ever to receive ordination – though the country’s Orthodox rabbinate did not recognize her status. Less than a decade later, she was dead, having been murdered at Auschwitz.

Source: 1935: World’s First Female Rabbi Is Ordained, in Germany – This Day in Jewish History – Haaretz

December 27, 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

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

‘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

Thank You Letter

Krakow Tours, Auschwitz recommendation

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

A Polish Wedding….. All you need to know.

KRAKOW TOURS– Polish wedding season is almost upon us. More and more foreigners are marrying Poles or getting invited to Polish friend’s weddings and there are things these people need to know. In this definitive survival guide to Polish weddings I will cover every potential pitfall, misunderstanding and health risk I’ve uncovered. Comparisons are made with British Weddings, the rest of you will have to wing it.

1. Read your invitation carefully

In Poland it is quite possible to be invited to the wedding but not the wedding party. In fact it’s more common to be invited to the ceremony than to the party.

Many Poles are still attached to the quaint notion that the union of two people in holy matrimony is a significant event that people might want to witness rather than a slightly tedious prelude to a booze up. Shocking I know, but there it is. If your invitation mentions “ślub” that’s the tedious prelude part. If it mentions “ślub” and “wesele” put on your best drinking shoes and pat yourself on the back, you’re going to a party.

2. The missing groom

In a British wedding ceremony the groom arrives at the church first and waits at the altar with his best man for the bride to be escorted down the aisle by her father or nearest equivalent. It’s a tradition that allows for all kinds of hilarious church-based shenanigans such as the groom fainting from stress or the best man passing out from alcohol poisoning. It’s also frequently used as a dramatic device in the kind of movies where brides decide not to turn up at the last minute. In Poland the bride and groom arrive at the church at the same time and walk down the aisle together, sometimes in leg irons. If you’re waiting in the church and notice the groom is missing don’t get excited, he’s coming. Expectations of a thrilling ‘jilted-at-the-altar’ scenario are unlikely to be met.

3. Polish best man – the world’s easiest job

Expectations of the best man at a Polish wedding are not high. The ability to walk in a more-or-less straight line and hold some envelopes are sufficient qualifications. Polish best men do practically nothing. He walks behind the bride and groom down the aisle along with the bridesmaid and then sits down. That’s pretty much it. Best men are often also witnesses, but not always. In a British wedding it is the responsibility of the best man to bring the ring (note, only one ring) and hand it over at the appropriate moment, another tradition that provides limitless opportunities for humor. Not so in the Polish service – the rings are already there in a holy cubby hole of some kind.

If you’re ever asked to be best man at a Polish wedding do not hesitate. No responsibilities, no speeches (more on this later), a definite invitation to the party and a guaranteed woman to go with. You can’t lose.

4. Throwing money around and sealed brown envelopes

On exiting the church the happy couple are traditionally showered with handfuls of loose change. They are then expected to pick it all up. Starting out on married life groveling around on the pavement for pennies like bums is, apparently, lucky. If you ever find yourself in this position I suggest bringing an umbrella which you can smoothly invert to catch the bulk of the incoming coinage.

Immediately following this potentially painful and humiliating indoctrination into marital finances everybody lines up to pay their respects to the couple and hand them wads of cash. Three kisses on the cheek and flowers for the bride, a handshake and an envelope full of money to the groom. I’m told the going rate is about 200 zloty. The bride hands her flowers to her bridesmaid, who needs to have forearms like tree trunks, and the groom hands the envelopes full of money to the best man, who needs to have moderately large pockets (I told you this job was easy).

5. The salt and the bread

Off to the party, which might be in a wedding hall, a restaurant, or somebody’s back garden. On arrival everybody gets a drink and the bride and groom get salt and bread. Again, if you ever find yourself in this situation, don’t panic – it’s just symbolic, it doesn’t mean you’re only getting salt and bread for the rest of the evening. One or other of the parents who’s job it is to provide the bread and salt may make a short speech and start blubbing at this point.

6. Songs, songs, songs

Immediately following the salt and the bread business all Poles in the vicinity will break into song. The song is known as “Sto lat” (”100 years”) and is the same song you will hear sung at birthday parties, presidential inaugurations and, in extreme cases, the opening of a tin of sardines. Here are the words — you’re going to hear them a lot in the next few hours:

Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje/żyją, żyje/żyją nam.
Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje/żyją, żyje/żyją nam,
Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, niech żyje/żyją, żyje/żyją nam,
Niech żyje/żyją nam!

which translates roughly into English as:

A hundred years, a hundred years,
We want him/her/them to live.
A hundred years, a hundred years,
We want him/her/them to live,
Once again, once again, we want him/her/them to live,
We want him/her/them to live.

7. First dinner, first dance

Once the singing has died down everybody sits down to the first meal. Note my use of the word ‘first’ here. There may be additional singing in the form of traditional demands for the bride and groom to kiss like alien face-huggers, but there’s nothing important going on there that you need to worry about. Immediately following the first meal the newlyweds are invited to embarrass themselves horribly by performing the first dance.

8. A lot more dinners

I often advise people going to Polish weddings to beware of the amount of food they will be required to consume. “There will be a lot of food” I say “I mean, really a lot.” “Oh good” they say. I shake my head and hold my tongue. A few days later I see them again and they say “Why didn’t you tell us there would be so much!” “I did!” I say “I tried to warn you.” “My god” they say with the horror of recollection in their eyes “I didn’t know there was that much food…”

This is how it works. Immediately after the first toast you will sit down to an excellent meal of something roasted, with vegetables and potatoes and a side salad preceded by soup. You will eat this and then help yourself to the various cakes, cold meats, breads etc. scattered liberally about the table. At this point you will be completely stuffed and saying to yourself “Hey, that guy was right, there really was a lot of food, but I could handle it.” You will probably be quite satisfied with yourself and think me a moaning minnie with the food handling capacity of a small rodent. About an hour later the waiters will be bearing down on you with exactly the same thing all over again. An hour after that they will be back again. By now you’ll be feeling the fear. Fortunately there are only three or four more courses to go, each one the size of a hearty Sunday dinner. And then cake.

Do not attempt to eat everything served to you. You will die. You have to regard the food as symbolic. It’s a symbol of wealth and plenty, an overwhelming feast for the happy event, it’s not an actual meal.


9. The vodka situation

Vodka is a big deal at Polish weddings. Talk of who is going to buy the vodka and where they are going to get it begins at least six months before people start considering less significant details such as wedding dresses or who to marry. Presumably there was a time when vodka was in short supply or had to be manufactured in the woods because, as far as I can see, the entire problem can me solved in a ten minute trip to the local supermarket. However, I digress.

Assuming the vodka is there and, to be honest, the wedding would have been canceled if it wasn’t there are a few things you should know. Vodka is only drunk collectively. Glasses are filled, somebody proposes a toast, vodka is drunk, and glasses are refilled in readiness for the next toast. There’s no casual solitary sipping. It’s all or nothing every time. Sometimes it will be a special wedding vodka prepared according to a traditional recipe known only to 84-year-old uncle Bogdan. These are often sweet and pleasant tasting but can still kill an elephant at 20 paces. Do not be tempted to fill in the time between toasts with a beer or a glass of wine, that way lies very messy but dimly recalled madness.

10. Throwing bouquets and ties

The throwing of the bouquet will be familiar to British readers and it has the same function at a Polish wedding, except that it takes place at the party and not outside the church. The difference at a Polish wedding is that it is taken much more seriously. In the half an hour before the tossing of the bouquet is due you’ll notice a gradual but complete evacuation of the building by all unmarried females over the age of about 24. To be 25 or older and still in that circle around the bride is a powerful shame.

Unlike men at British weddings Polish men also get the chance to make utter fools of themselves scrambling after discarded clothing. The groom’s tie is the sought after item in this case. By this time of the night any male who is still able to stand, regardless of age, is considered a good catch.

11. Proper dancing

Dancing is also a big deal a Polish weddings. It’s the women’s vodka. The first time I went to a Polish wedding my girlfriend said “You know there will be dancing, don’t you?” “Well yes” I said “that’s normal.” I had in mind the vague individual flailing around that every self-respecting Brit regards as dancing. Not so. Proper dancing is expected. In pairs, with feet and everything. Dancing schools make a killing in Poland.

12. Midnight cake

The cake is cut and distributed to the groaning overstuffed guests at midnight. Or at some other random time. Then they wheel in an entire roasted cow just in case anybody is feeling peckish. Knocking off time will probably be sometime around 3 or 4 in the morning.

13. The two-day wedding

It is true that Polish weddings sometimes go on for two days. The second day is known as “poprawiny” and you’re most likely to come across it at a traditional village affair. At first the idea of a party that goes on for two days sounds quite appealing to the average Brit. By the fifth course of the first night the idea becomes less attractive. The first time I went to a two-day wedding I imagined a Bacchanalian blow-out that would literally go on for 48 hours. In fact the truth is less terrifying. On the first night everybody goes home in the early hours of the morning, sleeps for 10 hours, then comes back and does the whole thing all over again minus the tedious mucking about in church.

The second night is traditionally much more relaxed than the first. It’s a no-holds-barred party to celebrate the fact that the previous night’s party went well, or to rectify the fact if it didn’t. Boys are sorted from men.

Enjoy!

For a fantastic wedding photographer in Southern Poland have a look at Lukasz Lisiecki’s website.

March 11, 2015 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Auschwitz draws record number of visitors

The former Nazi German concentration camp of Auschwitz attracted 1 million 534 thousand visitors in 2014.

The figure is an all-time record not only for Auschwitz, but for all European sites of remembrance.

The director of the Auschwitz Museum, Piotr Cywinski, has said that Auschwitz-Birkenau has become a symbol of the Holocaust and of the World War Two crime of genocide, a place which for present generations is a key to understanding the realities of today and the challenges facing the contemporary world.

According to Pawel Sawicki of the Auschwitz Museum Press Office, Poles constitute the most numerous national group among the visitors.

Yet, the number of Polish visitors fell from 610, 000 in 2011 to just under 400, 000 last year. The falling trend is attributed to recent changes in the school curriculum and the lack of a government programme of financing youth visits to remembrance sites.

There were 199, 000 visitors from Britain, 92, 000 from the United States, 84, 000 from Italy and 75, 000 from Germany.

Israelis, Spaniards, French, Czechs and South Koreans were next on the list of the most sizeable national groups.

Around 10, 000 people from around the world took part in various educational projects in Auschwitz. The site was also visited by several hundred journalists and 180 film crews from over 30 countries.

On 27 January, ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by the Soviet Army will bring together up to 300 of its former prisoners. The most sizeable group – numbering about 100 persons – will be of Polish inmates of the camp. Roughly the same number of people will come from around the world thanks to financial support from the World Jewish Congress. Former Auschwitz prisoners will also come as members of official state delegations.

And on Wednesday, 7 January, a group of Polish inmates of Auschwitz will take part in an audience with Pope Francis. They will present the Pontiff with the ‘Gift of Remembrance’ Statuette of the International Auschwitz Committee. Members of the Polish group will include the writer Zofia Posmysz, author of the novel The Passenger, which was made into a film and an opera.

The concentration camp of Auschwitz was founded in 1940. Some 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, but also Poles, Soviet POWs, Roma and Sinti, as well as people of other nationalities perished in the camp. It was liberated by the Soviet Army on 27 January 1945.

January 5, 2015 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Cameron visits Auschwitz / Birkenau

David Cameron at Birkenau

David Cameron visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau today 10th December 2014

December 10, 2014 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Scot who died in Auschwitz

Jane Haining was a quiet farmer’s daughter from the south of Scotland who ended her life as a slave labourer in the most notorious extermination camp the world has ever known.

Krakow Tours - Jane Haining

She is the only Scot to be officially honoured for giving her life for Jews in the Holocaust.

But her life began a long way from the barbed wire fences of Auschwitz – among the rolling hills of rural Dumfriesshire.

Jane Haining was born in Dunscore in 1897. Her mother died when she was just five years old and she took on much of the care of her younger sisters.

After leaving Dumfries Academy, where she was an excellent student who was good at languages, Jane took a secretarial job at the huge JP Coats weaving factory in Paisley.

While there she attended church at Queen’s Park West in the Crosshill area of Glasgow.

It now has stained glass windows in memory of a woman who was driven by a strong Christian faith.

In 1932 she saw an advert for a job as matron to the Scottish Mission to the Jews in Budapest.

Rev Stevens describes Jane’s role as the mother for those who were not living at home any more.

For her pupils Jane Haining embodied the values of fairness, tolerance and equality that drove the whole Scottish mission.

Less than a year after Jane arrived in Budapest, Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany. He was the most powerful force in the turning against Jews which occurred across Europe in the 1930s.

Hungary’s Nationalist government began to concede anti-Semitic laws in a bid to undermine its more demanding fascist sympathisers before then allying itself with Germany.

The authorities started to detain Jews who had lived in Budapest for decades without citizenship.

As more and more territories fell to the Nazis, Hungary’s alliance with Germany kept invasion at bay.

The government continued to protect the lives of its Hungarian Jews. But they did lose jobs, social position, civil rights and respect.

However, the Church of Scotland was increasingly alarmed for the safety of its missionaries and sent repeated letters urging Jane Haining to come home.

She refused and wrote: “If these children needed me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in these days of darkness?”

“She could not grasp the evil in which she was functioning,” says Annette Lantos, former pupil.

“It was not part of her ability to understand what she was confronted with. She lived in a different world. A world that was civilised and reasonable and rational, where people did not kill each other for no reason.”

Then the outlook suddenly darkened further, when Hitler turned his attention to Hungary and its Jews.

On a Sunday afternoon in March 1944 Nazi troops marched into Budapest.

Jane Haining is said to have wept as she sewed on the yellow stars that branded her children as Jews.

Her open sympathy put Jane in grave danger.

It only took one incident to light the touch paper.

Within weeks of the invasion Jane scolded the cook’s son-in-law for eating food intended for the girls. He informed on her. The next morning a Gestapo police car arrived at the school.

She was arrested on suspicion of “espionage on behalf of England”.

She was originally taken to the local prison but soon she was taken to Poland, to Auschwitz, as the industrial slaughter of Jews was reaching its zenith.

About 12,000 Hungarian Jews every day were being packed off to Auschwitz. Most went straight to the gas chambers.

In all, more than a million human beings were killed at Auschwitz.

Jane Haining was a political prisoner so she was taken to the labour camps where inmates were screamed at, beaten and chased with dogs.

She survived just two months. She was just 47.

According to her death certificate, she died of “cachexia following intestinal catarrh”.

Whether Jane died of starvation, illness or disease and died in hospital or whether she was actually gassed like many women who became too ill to work cannot be known for sure.

It took a long-time before Jane Haining’s death was recognised.

In 1997 after an initiative from Queen’s Park church and a 10-year investigation by an Israeli board, Jane was named as Righteous Among the Nations in Jerusalem’s sacred Yad Vashem.

In 2010 she was awarded a Hero of the Holocaust medal by the British government.

Her death was anonymous and without show but her quiet sacrifice for those Jewish children has now been recognised throughout the world.

December 1, 2014 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

An emotional return to Nazi camp where my grandma was born

VISITING the site of Auschwitz is a powerful experience for anyone who goes there.

But the trip had special significance for one 16-year-old girl from Yorkshire whose grandmother was born in the concentration camp and lived there for the first two years of her life.

Celine Bickerdike took part in a visit as part of a Lessons from Auschwitz Trip organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

The project is now in its sixteenth year based on the premise that “hearing is not like seeing”.

Thousands of pupils have been taken to where the camps were to get a sense of the horrors of the Holocaust but few have been on the journey which Celine took.

via An emotional return to Nazi camp where my grandma was born – Yorkshire Post.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , | Leave a comment

Dignity at Auschwitz

Care to spare a dime to save Auschwitz?

That was the question posed to us last week when the government-appointed leader of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland visited our offices. For the last six years, museum director Piotr M.A. Cywinski and his team have been on a mission to raise $165 million to preserve the cursed concentration camp, where nearly 1.1 million Jews were exterminated.

Turns out, the Nazi penchant for fine art did not extend to architecture. Auschwitz was actually shabbily built, bricks-and-mortar style, designed to be a temporary slaughterhouse and then disappear. It wasn’t built to last — or matter.

It should surprise no one that the Nazis were better at destroying than building, but in fact, it is alarming that in the decades since World War II, the site that proves Hitler’s horrors existed has been slowly crumbling away.

via Dignity at Auschwitz | Hollywood Jew | Jewish Journal.

March 20, 2014 Posted by | Auschwitz | , | Leave a comment

Germany arrests 3 Auschwitz guard suspects

German police on Thursday raided the homes of nine elderly men suspected of serving as SS guards at the Auschwitz death camp and arrested three of them on allegations of accessory to murder.

The arrests came five months after federal authorities announced they would investigate former guards at Auschwitz and other Nazi-era death camps.

Their effort was inspired by the precedent-setting trial of former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in 2012 in a Bavarian nursing home while appealing his conviction on charges he served at the Sobibor camp.

“This is a major step,” said Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, when told of the arrests. “Given the advanced age of the defendants, every effort should be made to expedite their prosecution.

“Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in any specific killing.Munich prosecutors successfully argued that anyone who was involved in operating a death camp was an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk maintained he had been mistaken for someone else and never served as a guard.

Following the Munich precedent, Germany’s special federal prosecutors’ office responsible for investigating Nazi war crimes announced in September it was recommending charges against about 30 suspected former Auschwitz guards. State prosecutors since have worked to build cases.

The three men arrested, aged 88, 92 and 94, all live in state of Baden Wuerttemberg in southwest Germany. They were taken to a prison hospital, Stuttgart prosecutors’ spokeswoman Claudia Krauth said.

Krauth said officials had yet to uncover enough evidence to merit the arrests of three other suspects aged 94, 91 and 90.

She said authorities seized “diverse papers and documents from the Nazi era” from the suspects’ homes. She declined to provide details.

Five men made no statements, while the 88-year-old admitted being a guard at Auschwitz but denied committing any crimes, Krauth said.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said more documents and photographs were seized during raids on the homes of two men aged 89 and 92 in the neighboring state of Hesse. A spokeswoman, Doris Mueller-Scheu, said neither suspect was arrested nor made statements.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, state police said they raided the apartment of a 92-year-old man who admitted being an Auschwitz guard but denied participating in any crimes. They found no incriminating material during the search.

The Nazis built six main death camps, all in occupied Poland: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka.

About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945. Overall, about 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

Since handing off the Auschwitz cases to state prosecutors, federal authorities say they are focusing on identifying guards from other camps, starting with Majdanek. Results of that investigation are expected in a few months.

via Germany arrests 3 Auschwitz guard suspects.

February 20, 2014 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , | Leave a comment

Eric Clapton to play Oświęcim (Auschwitz) Life Festival

Legendary British guitarist Eric Clapton will headline the fifth edition of a festival promoting peace and tolerance near the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz.

Eric CLAPTON

This June, Clapton will follow in the footsteps of artists such as Sting and Peter Gabriel, who have both performed at the event in previous years.

Launched in 2010 by radio journalist Darek Maciborek, the festival was designed to “break the spell” that surrounded the founders home town of Oswiecim, which was renamed Auschwitz during the Nazi occupation.

The network of death camps created in the vicinity of Oswiecim witnessed the deaths of over 1 million inmates, 90 percent of whom were Jewish. Other victims included Poles, Russians and members of Europes Roma community.

The 5th Oswiecim Life Festival runs from 25-28 June, and Cream and Yardbirds veteran Eric Clapton will play the MOSiR sports stadium in Oswiecim on 28 June.Other acts due to play include US outfit Soundgarden and eclectic New York combo Balkan Beat Box.

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Auschwitz, Events, News, Recommendations | , , , , | Leave a comment

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