Monday, 11 March 2013

Ghosts of Krakow

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the City of Krakow in Poland. I was not expecting too much from the city but it turned out to be a fantastic experience. The archaeological museum in particular proved to be absolutely fascinating. They have some amazing exhibits of Egyptian finds, mummies etc. and a wealth of Archaeological wonders from the stone age right up to the Iron age in central Europe.

It would be easy to spend hours upon hours gazing at some of the Archaeological and Architectural wonders in the city, but what struck me most about Krakow was the Jewish Quarter. Walking past the Synagogues and shops owned by Jewish people, seeing the old apartments and houses burnt out. I felt the eyes of 65,000 ghosts on me as I wandered these streets.

For us in Ireland, we are so far removed from the horrors of the holocaust, it is not until we see places like this that it really hits home what happened between 1939 and 1945. The proximity to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp makes the horror even more potent. I thought we had it bad in Ireland with the British occupation, but my God did they have it worse in Central Europe during the Nazi era! I heard and read the stories during my Junior Cert History classes, families torn apart, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters murdered, raped and tortured for no good reason other than one man didn't like their race. Walking the streets where it happened plants clearly in your mind how truly tragic those times were.

Don't take this post as a negative towards this truly wonderful city, it is a must see in Europe! If you have the time and are anywhere near Poland, Krakow must be on your to-visit list. This city has so much to offer, it will not be a wasted journey.