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Krakow - Part 1

Auschwitz

rain 62 °F
View IHW 2011 on jwhitehurst's travel map.

OK. It's been over a week, and I think I can now tell the story of Krakow. We left on Sunday morning from Warsaw (beautiful hotel to leave) IMAG0366.jpg, and we headed on train to Krakow. It was about 4 hours and quite an ok trip. We were in a cabin with three other ladies who kept to themselves while Chris and I caught a quick nap. Upon arriving at Krakow, it was nice to see that our hotel was literally across the street. (Great job, Jane) IMAG0136.jpg and a quaint hotel with old style. We had just a few minutes to check in and carry our luggage up to the second floor (no elevators) before we went back to the train and bus stations to find a ride to Auschwitz (Oswiecim). The bus we caught just in the nick of time was filled with English speakers from Canada, Apex, and Chicago. One lady's nephew even went to Apex High where I teach. It was an interesting 2 hour trip through small towns and tiny curvey streets. We were welcomed with the saying "Arbeit Mach Frei", IMAG0368.jpg a saying all too familiar with the concentration camps that lied to its prisoners "Work makes you free". This was Chris' first visit to a camp. The barbed wire borders were just as a jail. DSC01978.jpg We joined the last tour at 3:00 in the pouring rain. IMAG0370.jpg What prisoners must have had to go through with this and the snow is unbelievable. In Auschwitz I, there were 20 blocks or brick bunkers for sleeping, medical experiments, torture, photos, etc. DSC01982.jpg We toured four of them that were turned into a museum. The sights were ghastly, but a few really stuck with me. One was a map of origin for campers. IMAG0371.jpg The jews, gypsies, gays, and war criminals came from as far as Rome and further. One was a collection of prayer shawls left over from inmates. IMAG0373.jpg and one was a large pile of children's shoes. That one caught me off guard, and I had to exit. I took no photo except that which is in my mind and forever will be. The last bunker we visited had prison chambers including a stading cell for four persons that was maybe 4x4. Outside the block a recreation of the firing wall became a point of mourning and remembrance. IMAG0375.jpg On our way out, the last thing we saw was the last thing nearly 400,000 of them saw, the crematorium DSC01985.jpg. This was a history lesson that neither of us would forget. The bus ride home was quiet. We decided to walk into town for some dinner and leave the major sight seeing for tomorrow. We ate at "Lizard" a dinner/bar/theatre IMAG0376.jpg. We walked along the streets. IMAG0138.jpg and we saw the opera house on the way back through the gardens IMAG0378.jpg.

Posted by jwhitehurst 14:47 Archived in Poland

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I bet that was amazing to see in person. Dawn and I just went to the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH, and in one portion of it, they had a room devoted to the atrocities they encountered in the liberation of these camps. Stories of families, friends, towns, and even bodies getting ripped apart. We only had 2 hours there, but I bet we spend a good 30mins just in that one 40x20 room. On a positive note, I did get to see the SR71 Blackbird. It was amazing to do something that many spies were executed, if not given life in jail for doing...taking pictures of it. I was pretty pumped. Hope you have a good trip... keep the reports coming.

by James

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