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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

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow

KRAKOW TOURS: Deep underground in Poland lies something remarkable but little known outside Eastern Europe. For centuries, miners have extracted salt there, but left behind things quite startling and unique. Take a look at the most unusual salt mine in the world.

From the outside, Wieliczka Salt Mine doesn’t look extraordinary. It looks extremely well kept for a place that hasn’t minded any salt for over ten years but apart from that it looks ordinary. However, over two hundred meters below ground it holds an astonishing secret. This is the salt mine that became an art gallery, cathedral and underground lake.

Situated in the Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close to twenty thousand inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a local Duke to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath. Until 1996 it did just that but the generations of miners did more than just extract. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape of statues of mythic, historical and religious figures. They even created their own chapels in which to pray. Perhaps their most astonishing legacy is the huge underground cathedral they left behind for posterity.

via Wieliczka Salt Mine – An Astounding Subterranean Salt Cathedral ~ Kuriositas.

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Tour Information | , , , | Leave a comment

Preserving Auschwitz?

For many, the everlasting power of Auschwitz is understood only by visiting the infamous death camp and walking the grounds where more than 1 million people were killed during the Holocaust.

Krakow Tours and Transfers

The problem, according to two local architects, is in assuming the camp itself will be everlasting. As survivors continue to die and the camp’s structures continue to decay, there remains the question of how and what to preserve of Auschwitz, and how visitors — currently more than 1 million annually — will interact with the site in the years and centuries to come.

via Preserving Auschwitz? | Los Angeles | Jewish Journal.

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , | Leave a comment

Historical Museums of Krakow

November 29, 2011 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Auschwitz ‘Arbeit macht frei’ sign re-assembled.

June 9, 2011 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Government to assist with Auschwitz funding.

KRAKOW TOURS – The UK government is set to contribute £2.1m towards the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, it has been announced.

The joint contribution will mainly be provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Foreign Office.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation will be funded over the next three years.

More than a million people were murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

The concentration camp was the largest site for the mass murder of Jews.

In recent years a number of countries have contributed to the fund to maintain the main concentration camp, Auschwitz, and its nearby satellite camp of Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II, and opened as a museum in 1947.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the camp, which stands as an enduring symbol of the Holocaust, was an importance place of remembrance which served to educate people about the horrors of the Holocaust.

Speaking at the Jewish Museum in London, he said: “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that Auschwitz-Birkenau stands as a perpetual reminder of the pain and destructive force of hate.

“We must ensure that the lessons from the Holocaust are taught today and to future generations.”

And Foreign Secretary William Hague said Auschwitz-Birkenau underlined “the horrific consequences of intolerance”.

Mr Hague said he was “proud that the UK is able to play a part in commemorating the millions of victims who died there” and was helping to ensure the camp’s preservation to educate future generations on “the evils of that period in history”.

And Lord Greville Janner of Braunstone, who chairs the Holocaust Educational Trust, said the financial support sends a clear message that the camp should be maintained for future generations.

He said: “Through our Lessons from Auschwitz Project, the Holocaust Educational Trust gives over 3,000 British students each year the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“This announcement will ensure that when young people visit Auschwitz, they will see for themselves what can happen when racism and prejudice is allowed to go unchecked.”

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Events, News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prince William, Polish?

Historian Jerzy Łapo from the Museum of Folk Culture in Węgorzewo in Masuria, northern Poland, claims that Prince William, who was made the Duke of Cambridge after his wedding a few days ago, has roots in a family which lived in Masuria for centuries.

Having studied the family tree of the Lehndorff family, who thought of themselves as Prussian and who are related to the British royal family, historian Dr. Łapo has established that Maria Eleonora von Lehndorff, born 1723 in Steinort (Sztynort), near Węgorzewo, was among the ancestors of Prince William.

Her grandson, the King of Denmark Christian IX, was the Prince William’s great, great grandfather.

The collection at the museum in Węgorzewo includes a 17th-century tombstone with the likeness of Meinhard von Lehndorff, a local dignitary who served in the army of the Polish King Sigismund the Third Vasa. He was Prince William’s grandfather with the preceding word ‘great’ repeated as many as nine times.

According to Dr. Łapo, Meinhard von Lehndorff’s face had a resemblance to the new Duke of Cambridge.

The Sztynort Palace, which was the family’s property until the end of World War Two, is now owned by the Polish-German Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Sites. There are plans to bring the palace to its former splendour.

The management of the Museum of Folk Culture in Węgorzewo hopes to bring the history of the Lehndorff family to the attention of the newly-weds and boost tourism to the region.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Tusk at Downing Street to meet David Cameron.

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, to Downing Street.

During their discussions in Number 10, the PM said they agreed to work together “very closely” in the European Union where the two countries share similar perspectives on the need for greater competition, greater deregulation and a determination to make Europe a “high growth rather than a slow growth area of the world”.

Mr Cameron also said the two leaders discussed the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and agreed the EU should support the popular revolts.

Speaking after the meeting, the PM said:

“We had very good discussions about what is happening in Libya and North Africa and the Arab world, where we agreed Europe should make a strong and welcoming response to the Arab Spring.”
The PM said the two leaders also discussed Poland’s role in NATO, hailing their ”strong, shared efforts” in Afghanistan.

“Both Poland and Britain are making a huge contribution and we agreed to work together for a successful outcome.”

April 18, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama could be in Krakow in May

US President Barack Obama may spend a few hours in the city of Kraków during his visit to Poland in late May and place flowers at the tomb of the late President Lech Kaczynski in the Wawel Cathedral.

According to the Dziennik newspaper, which quotes a Polish government official, no decision has yet been taken but this is an option under serious consideration.

President Obama will be in Poland on 27 and 28 May.

The US president was to attend Lech Kaczynski’s state funeral last April following his death in the Smolensk air disaster but the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud made travelling to Poland impossible.

Dziennik quotes an unofficial source suggesting that the idea of paying tribute to the late Polish president came from the US Embassy in Warsaw.

The first anniversary of the air crash in Smolensk, western Russia, which killed the Polish President, the First Lady and 94 other people, mostly high-ranking state and military officials is on 10 April.

March 30, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frederic Chopin Letters – Back where they belong

KRAKOW TOURS – Six letters written by Frederic Chopin, thought to be lost in 1939, have been found and donated to a Warsaw museum dedicated to the Polish composer.

The letters, written by Chopin to his parents and sisters between 1845 and 1848, were believed lost after the outbreak of World War II.

After it emerged in 2003 that they still existed in a private collection, moves were made to secure them.

Chopin was born in Poland in 1810 but spent half of his life in France.

According to museum curator Alicja Knast, the letters were last displayed in public in Poland in 1932 and were still confirmed as being in Warsaw in 1939.

It is thought the letters went missing, like many other cultural artefacts, after the Nazis invaded Poland.

The museum was assisted in their recovery by Marek Keller, a Polish art dealer now based in Mexico.

He acquired them directly from their owners, who Knast said wished to remain anonymous.

In the letters, written in Polish, Chopin describes daily life and his cello sonata in G minor, one of his few non-piano works.

The collection, which includes letters from Chopin’s pupil Jane Stirling to his sister Ludwika, will be on display at the museum until 25 April.

Some of Chopin’s letters were written in Nohant in central France, birthplace of his lover Amantine Dupin – aka writer George Sand.

Later this year Jeremy Irons and Sharon Stone will take part in a theatrical evening devoted to their romance at the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy.

March 25, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorial day at Auschwitz – Birkenau

Auschwitz & Birkenhau

Photo courtesy of Peter Harpley

January 27th is International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, established by the United Nations to coincide with the liberation in 1945 by Soviet troops of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in southern (German occupied) Poland.

Over one million died in Auschwitz, mostly Jews, at the hands of the Nazis and six million perished in the Holocaust.

President Bronislaw Komorowski and German president, Christian Wulff will be taking part in ceremonies today at the most notorious of Nazi death camps.

“Former prisoners will be the most important guests at the ceremony this year, as we fear that with their death we will lose the most important of witnesses,” the Auschwitz Museum’s Pawel Sawicki told Polish Radio.

The main ceremony will take place at around 15:30 CET at the Monument to the Victims at the Auschwitz Museum, the most visited museum in Poland. Last year, close to one and a half million people visited the site from all over the world.

The museum is launching the Intervene Now campaign to raise 120 million euro for the up keeping the historical site.

“The barracks, barbed wire, the ruins of the crematoria and gas chambers are the best guardians of memory,” says Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an advisor to PM Donald Tusk and Auschwitz survivor.

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Outstanding experience from 8am to 8pm!!”

This review of KRAKOW TOURS was posted on Tripadvisor recently.

“Outstanding experience from 8am to 8pm!!”

“I have been involved in the travel business worldwide for 25 years, so i feel i know a thing or two about ground handlers and local tour operators. I came across Phil Clark of krakowtours.co.uk on tripadvisor, I was most impressed by the various personalised comments and reviews of his Auschwitz and salt mines tours. My wife Alma and I were fully aware of the harrowing experience which lay ahead on our visit to Auschwitz. I was worried as we were due to visit two camps and the salt mines all in the one day, however Phil has the winning formula!!

Phils tour operation is run on a personal one to one basis. He takes six clients per day in his wonderful converted American style mini-bus, which is a pleasurable experience in itself. He also provides a lovely picnic lunch for all of his clients. Reviews on other tour operators show that accessing these sites/camps can be a drawn out and painstaking process, however with Phils operation there is no such issues, your straight in. It is a most difficult day, but i feel that Phil has got it just right. By taking in the brilliant and dramatic salt mines at the end of the afternoon, it helps dramaticaly to relieve the pain and anguish of the previous hours. It is my personal belief that everybody should visit these historical sites at some stage in there lives. I cannot recommend a better person, with a more caring and knowledgable personality than Phil Clark of krakowtours.co.uk.”

Eamon and Alma Duffy
Drogheda
Ireland

Many thanks to Eamon and Alma for this tremendous review of our tour.

View more reviews HERE on Tripadvisor, the worlds #1 travel website.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Euro 2012 blog


KRAKOW TOURS – Countdown to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

As it’s now only 17 months until the start of Euro 2012 KRAKOW TOURS have added a new Blog, to keep the estimated 1 million fans visiting Poland and Ukraine up to date with news, stories and information about the Euro 2012 championships.

For all you need to know about Euro 2012 have a look here.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News, Recommendations, Sport, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Auschwitz visitors, almost 1.4 million in 2010.

KRAKOW TOURS – As many as 1.38 million visited the site of the German Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 2010, the museum has announced.

The record high attendance in the 60-year history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum in Oświęcim, southern Poland, topped the previous year’s attendance of 1.3 million.

The numbers soared despite the air traffic freeze following the volcano eruption in Iceland and the May floods in the southern and central parts of the country.

“The former death camp is the most frequented memorial site in the world,” said museum spokesperson Bartosz Bartyzel.

Apart from 530,000 Poles visiting, the largest group coming to Auschwitz last year were British, accounting for 84,000 people, followed by Italians, numbering 74,000 and 63,000 French nationals.

Up to 850,000 visitors were students.

The museum’s staff member Andrzej Kacorzyk has pointed to the increasing number of foreigners from European countries and the Far East: “Last year the Memorial Site was visited by more inhabitants of South Korea than the US citizens,” he said.

There is also a growing interest in the museum’s multilingual guided tours and educational programmes

The Auschwitz Nazi death camp complex, established in 1940, claimed the lives of over 1.1 million people.

Auschwitz Trips with Krakow Tours.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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