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Auschwitz thief complains of maltreatment

KRAKOW TOURS – Anders Hoegstroem, the Swede who is accused of stealing the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from the Auschwitz museum in December 2009, has complained of bad conditions in the jail where he is currently being held.

Hoegstroem earlier passed on his grievances to a friend in Sweden, Bjoern Fries, a politician for the Social Democratic Party in Sweden. Fries announced the thief’s malcontentment on SVT, Sweden’s public broadcaster on Thursday evening.

“Hoegstroem has lost 15 kg since he was interred in Poland, and he also has to pay for his own water and personal hygiene products,” Fries said.

The politician is urging the Swedish authorities to look into the case, to check whether “such treatment is in line with the European justice system.”

Former neo-Nazi, and allegedly the mastermind behind the theft of the sign, Anders Hoegstroem is currently being held in a prison in the southern city of Krakow, along with two Polish suspects: Marcin A. and Andrzej S.

Investigations into the theft have been extended until December, with media reports stating that the case will probably be finished by the end of this year.

Hoegstroem has maintained his innocence in the case, which accuses him of the theft and also persuading the Poles to help him. If found guilty, he could face a 10 year sentence.

November 5, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Krakow Tours – #1 attraction in Krakow (TripAdvisor)

For the time being KRAKOW TOURS are ranked as the NUMBER ONE of 54 attractions or ‘Things To Do‘ in Krakow.

Also ranked NUMBER ONE in Southern Poland.

Thanks to all our guests for submitting such great reviews.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz and Birkenau slide show

A great slide show of photographs taken by a recent guest of KRAKOW TOURS, at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Thank you for allowing me to post on my blog.

October 25, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Holocaust denier to lead tours to Auschwitz and Treblinka

NOT KRAKOW TOURS – The Nigdy Więcej (Never Again) anti-racist organisation have called for ‘Holocaust denier’ British historian David Irving to be banned from entering Poland later this month.

Starting September 27, Irving is leading a tour party, with tickets costing around 1,500 euros each, taking in sites including the Treblinka death camp, Warsaw Ghetto and Hitler’s Bunker in the Masurian lake district.

Never Again, in a joint statement with the UK based Searchlight magazine, have called for Irving and his tour party – which he claims is sold out – not to be let into Poland.

“We urge Polish and British authorities to react strongly and not allow this shameful visit which offends the memory of victims of the war and the Holocaust,” says the Never Again statement.

“The group will mainly consist of Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis from the UK and other Western Europe countries and the United States,” the statement adds.

Protest

No protests against the visit have yet come to the notice of the police. “We have not yet received any information about demonstrations and assembly connected with Irving’s visit,” said Warsaw police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski .

“We have also not receive any information from Mr Irving that he felt threatened,” Sokolowski told the PAP news agency, noting that police have no responsibility for the security of private visits.

Irving has dismissed protests against his visit. He told the Daily Mail that his tour party was for “real history buffs”, and that it was the Polish authorities who had turned the Auschwitz Nazi death camp site into a “Disney-style” tourist trap and a “money making machine”. Irving went on to accuse Polish authorities of neglecting other less “marketable,” more authentic death camps, which “don’t have a Holiday Inn down the road,” in favor of Auschwitz.

He also accused Poland of erecting watch towers in Auschwitz that were not there during WW II, to make the place feel more authentic. “I have been a historian for 40 years. I know a fake when I see one. When you look at old photos of Auschwitz, those towers aren’t in the photographs,” he said.

Irving was arrested and imprisoned in 2006 when he visited Austria, where Holocaust denial is a crime.

Andrzej Arseniuk, spokesman for Poland’s National Remembrance Institute  – which investigates and prosecutes Nazi and communist-era crimes – said that they would take appropriate action if Irving publicly denies Nazi crimes. If incidents come to the attention of the law then “the prosecutor has the authority to deal with it,” Arseniuk said.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Proud Guinness world record for Krakow restaurant.

KRAKOW TOURS – So Poland is now the proud holder of a new Guinness world record.

Chefs from Pizzeria Magillo with the help of Makro Cash and Carry have manged to smash the old record for the longest pizza in the world.

The old record of 407m held by chefs in Tuscany was shattered thanks to the 1,100m pizza created over the weekend on the Blonia. They used three and a half tonnes of flour, 1,500 litres of tomato sauce and 1,600 kilos of mozzarella cheese in making the massive pizza, which to me looked more like a Zapiekanki than a pizza.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Black Madonna – Czestochowa Pilgrim season

KRAKOW TOURS – More than 60 pilgrimages are arriving at the Jasna Gora monastery, a Catholic shrine in southern Poland, for the feast of the Virgin Mary of Czestochowa, celebrated on August 26.

The pilgrimages number several dozen to several thousand participants. The biggest group, of some 8,000 Catholic faithful from Tarnow, has been on the road for almost a week now. Two thousand people have set out from Lodz. Some pilgrimages have a long tradition of several hundred years, like the 542nd walking pilgrimage from Pabianice in central Poland.

During this year’s pilgrimage season, which started on May 30, more than 100,000 people walked to Czestochowa in 157 groups.

There were 54 biking pilgrimages. Forty five pilgrims arrived on horseback. The longest route – 640 km – was covered by a Kashubian pilgrimage from Hel Peninsula in northern Poland

August 24, 2010 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire at former Nazi Death Camp

KRAKOW TOURS – Majdanek, a former Nazi concentration camp located near Lublin in eastern Poland, caught fire Monday night, destroying many of the wooden structures and as many as 10,000 pairs of shoes belong to victims who died at the camp, officials said Tuesday.

The fire started in one of the L-shaped barracks and was noticed by a security guard when he saw smoke coming from the structure as he was making his rounds. The fire department was called promptly but the wooden camp did not have much of a chance. Sixteen fire brigades came to the rescue, numbering 48 firefighters, but it took seven hours to contain the fire, which spread quickly and furiously over the camp.

The source of the fire, which brought an estimated one million złoty in damages, is yet unknown and, although speculations of faulty wiring and premeditated arson have not yet been completely eliminated, they seem unlikely to have been the cause.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flash floods in Southern Poland, Krakow Unaffected.

KRAKOW TOURS – Flash floods brought on by rains in central Europe and the Baltic have killed at least 15, officials say.

Rivers overflowed their banks, sending torrents of water through Bogatynia in south-west Poland and Goerlitz in eastern Germany.

The Neisse river, on the border with Poland, reached its highest recorded level in Goerlitz.

Three Poles, three Germans and five Czechs were killed, while further north in Lithuania four people were killed.

Three other Czechs were reported missing after the downpours on Saturday triggered the floods.

The army, police and fire services were using helicopters and boats to move people away from the flood zones and clear flood debris.

The heavy downpour caused Poland’s Miedzianka river to overflow, flooding Bogatynia before swelling the Niesse river.

One woman drowned in Bogatynia while a 55-year-old firefighter was swept away when a dyke burst its banks.

Another woman drowned in the nearby town of Zgorzelec, across the Niesse from Goerlitz.

The Neisse reached its highest recorded level of 7.07 metres (23 feet).

“The flood wave hit the town in a few hours. We couldn’t do anything to get ready for that,” the mayor of Goerlitz, Michael Wieler, told German TV.

Police said 1,500 people evacuated their homes in Goerlitz as torrents of water rushed through the streets.

Further west, near Chemnitz, three Germans were found drowned in the flooded cellar of the building they lived in in Neukirchen, near the Czech border.

Police said they had been trying to carry furniture upstairs.

An additional five people drowned over the weekend in the Czech Republic where people were plucked by helicopter from the roofs of their homes in the towns of Chrastava and Frydlant.

As the storms moved north, four people were killed in Lithuania. Two campers died when a tree collapsed on their tent, local media reported.

The same region was hit by heavy flooding in May and June this year, killing nearly 30 people.

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has promised emergency aid payouts to help people affected by the floods.

August 9, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Komorowski sworn in as Polish President.

KRAKOW TOURS – Bronislaw Komorowski has been sworn in as Poland’s new president, a month after his election victory.

Mr Komorowski defeated Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash in April.

He will be the fourth president since the fall of communism, and wants closer relations with Germany and Russia.

Correspondents say Mr Komorowski is seen as someone who will lead Poland into a period of political stability.

Under the constitution, the president has power of veto and the right to make key nominations. But most executive power rests with the cabinet.

Mr Komorowski took the oath of office in front of MPs in the Polish parliament in the capital, Warsaw.

The 55-year-old father of five, who comes from an aristocratic family, became the fourth president since democracy was restored 20 years ago.

A social conservative, he ran as the candidate of the centre-right governing party, Civic Platform, which supports the free market and is pro-European.

He won July’s run-off election against Mr Kaczynski, the leader of the conservative Law and Justice Party, by a smaller margin than had been expected – 53% to 47%.

Mr Komorowski is unlikely to use his power of veto over legislation very frequently during his five-year term, something his predecessor did.

With a like-minded president and government, Poland appears to be entering a relatively rare period of political stability.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | Events, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oswiecim, under the shadow of Auschwitz

KRAKOW TOURS – The small Polish town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz in German) has long felt that it suffered from association with the horror of the nearby Nazi death camp, but some residents hope the town can begin to be seen in a more positive light.

“You want a map of the town, not just the museum?”

The tourist information officer looked sceptical at first, then delighted. She rummaged in a drawer – clearly one she did not open that often – and pulled out a brochure.

There were, she ruefully admitted, very few visitors to this place interested in anything beyond the Auschwitz museum.

After I had made my own visit, I headed away from the crowds into the elegant old town centre. A modest cafe or two were open, old men sat in the tree-lined square feeding the birds, shoppers ambled around in a scene you would find in any small Polish town.

No signs in any foreign language, nowhere selling souvenirs.

While more than a million people arrive up the road at the museum every year, in the town centre there is no hint of it being a tourist destination.

Resentment

And this bizarre divide has caused considerable tension.

Although the museum provides some jobs for locals, others complain about costs incurred in providing, say, parking space for visitors who bring the town little in return.

There have been rows when planning permission for the museum’s expansion has been rejected by local authorities.

And resentment goes deeper than that.

Some people feel tainted by the terrible history looming over this place.

It is hard growing up somewhere the rest of the world sees as the symbol of evil.

Some visitors to Auschwitz make a point of shunning the town, not wishing to linger. They cannot understand, they say, how anyone could still live here.

Jewish past

The reaction from many local people has been to turn their backs on history.

All this was encouraged by Polish Communist rule, keen to suppress Jewish history in particular.

Oswiecim’s former synagogue was used in Communist times as a carpet warehouse, until a British academic, Jonathan Webber, discovered it in the 1980s.

As Judaism was then so taboo, he recalls, he had to pretend he was looking for an Armenian church.

He paid the warehouse workers a few dollars to carry away the stacks of carpets and reveal Hebrew inscriptions on the walls.

That former synagogue is now a Jewish centre.

On the staff is Artur Szyndler, who grew up in Oswiecim under Communism.

He told me that all the time he was at school, a mile or two from the Auschwitz site, he never once heard the word Holocaust.

But after the end of Communist rule, he studied Jewish history at university, as a growing number of young Poles now do.

Pointing to old maps on the walls of the centre, he explained how Oswiecim had had a Jewish majority before the war.

With its location at a well-connected meeting point of countries and peoples, it was known as a place of unusually good relations between faiths, and for tolerance of refugees.

But that location became a curse during Nazi rule, and Oswiecim was chosen as the final destination and place of murder for over a million Jews and many others too, who were deported from all over Europe.

Reconciliation

Oswiecim’s own Jewish residents were among the victims.

There are no Jews living here today, but the centre in the former synagogue has regular visits from Holocaust survivors who were born in the town.

It wants to draw visitors from the Auschwitz concentration camp site into Oswiecim to explore the history of the rich society the Nazis destroyed.

And the Jewish centre is just one of several places in the town exploring the nature of genocide, and the possibility of reconciliation.

At the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer, I came across a man who plays a remarkable symbolic role as the only German living in Oswiecim today.

Manfred Deselaers is a Catholic priest with a ready smile but a deeply serious mission.

After German reunification in 1990 and much talk of Germany moving on from its past, he decided to settle permanently here.

He immersed himself first in its darkest history, studying the claims made by the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, that he was a Christian believer.

Today Father Deselaers runs courses bringing former Auschwitz prisoners – Catholic and Jewish – together with young Poles and Germans.

Sometimes even the descendants of Germans who worked at the death camp are there.

Given this kind of encounter, he tells me, Oswiecim-Auschwitz can be a place with a “remarkable positive power, which is strange but it’s here”.

“It’s important that people are not simply overwhelmed, but see something good,” he says. “That Hitler does not have the last word about this place”.

It will never be straightforward for Oswiecim to emerge from the shadow of Auschwitz.

The reconciliation work is a start, drawing on memories of the town’s brighter history before the Nazis arrived.

It is seen as offering a kind of map – like the map I found buried in the tourist information office – showing a way towards a more positive future for a town still trapped in the most terrible of pasts.

Chris Bowlby for BBC News

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Historical Accuracy Demands A Cave Beneath Your Castle With a Brothel Caveman Ghosts

Historical Accuracy Demands A Cave Beneath Your Castle With a Brothel & Caveman GhostsKRAKOW TOURS – I just visited Krakow, Poland, where I had the pleasure of meeting with some local RPG gamers who deserve a post of their own. This one, however, is about a cave they urged me to visit, called the Dragon’s Den.

Here are some of the many awesome things about it:

It is directly under the early 16th-century Wawel Castle – we entered the cave by descending a v … Read More

via The Mule Abides

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Break Dancers start young

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News, Recommendations, Sport, Tour Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

Former inmate recalls daring escape from Auschwitz

Arbeit Macht Frei, image by Peter Harpley

KRAKOW TOURS – Close Window Print Story Former inmate recalls daring escape from Auschwitz By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA

Associated Press Writer, The Associated Press Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:23 Poland

With every step toward the gate, Jerzy Bielecki was certain he would be shot. The day was July 21, 1944. Bielecki was walking in broad daylight down a pathway at Auschwitz, wearing a stolen SS uniform with his Jewish sweetheart Cyla Cybulska by his … Read More

via The perpetual view’s Blog

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Auschwitz / Birkenau, photo blog

KRAKOW TOURS – UK photographer, Peter Harpley, joined Krakow Tours last week on trips to Wieliczka Salt Mines, Liban Quarry, Schindlers Factory, Podgorze (The Krakow Ghetto) and Auschwitz Birkenau.

The photographic results of the trips were certainly some of the best I’ve seen from Auschwitz and Birkenau.

I’d like to thank Peter for his permission to display some of his work here.

And here’s one of mine………

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Tour Information | , , , | 1 Comment

Horrors discovered as flood water recedes.

Damaged farms, ruined fields, trash, rotting corpses and carcasses are emerging from under water as flood is gradually subsiding in the south of Poland.

The financial losses caused by flood are hard to estimate, says the government’s crisis centre. Many roads throughout the country are still impassable and power lines still down. The death toll, which so far has reached fifteen, is still on the rise as new dead bodies are being discovered. Today, the corpse of a young girl was found in Mlynowka River in the southern region of Podbeskidzie.

Water is slowly subsiding in the region but still 150 ha are under water. In Czechowice-Dziedzice, prisoners from a correctional facility in Jastrzebie Zdroj are pumping out water from the flooded area and a rescue team is providing owners of the flooded houses with food.

In Podkarpackie region the Vistula River still exceeds the emergency level and flood alerts are still valid in several villages and the town of Tarnobrzeg, one of the towns hardest hit by flood water. Over 70 rescue workers from Ukraine are pumping out the flood water from basements, drainage ditches and fields using 12 highly efficient water pumps.

Soldiers from chemical units are preparing to disinfect flood-affected areas, from which water has already withdrawn. Inhabitants of these areas are being vaccinated against tetanus. Although the flood situation in the south of Poland is stable, it may soon deteriorate again, warns forecasts, as heavy rains and thunderstorms are expected there today.

In the Mazovia region, central Poland, water is also subsiding but sanitary services warn of epidemics as water in adjacent wells and water pipes is contaminated. In the flood-stricken areas many buildings are in danger of collapsing and will have to be demolished. Teams consisting of doctors, vets and building inspectors are visiting households to check if people are fine and houses safe enough to dwell.

After the great wave, the level of water in the Vistula River in Warsaw is going down. “It’s getting better. We are monitoring embankments every 30 minutes and so far they haven’t soaked or damaged,” Arthur Lauda from Warsaw Fire Services said. Firemen are cutting out trees on embankments in Port Czerniakowski because their weight may breach the construction.

May 27, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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