Holocaust School History Trips to Kraków, Poland
Stepping into Kraków’s town centre reveals a fast-developing yet history rich culture. The Jewish Quarter, once the forced dwelling place for over 17,000 Jewish people, still houses synagogues and memorials to the events of the Holocaust and is now emerging as one of the town’s most up-and-coming districts. Most groups visit this area to make the emotional journey to Auschwitz, where the insight into the extreme consequences of discrimination and the breakdown of mutual respect makes a lifelong impression on those who visit.
The Auschwitz Concentration and Death Camps consisted of three main camps. Auschwitz I was used originally to hold those deemed political prisoners by the Nazis and their collaborators, as well as Catholic priests and Soviet prisoners of war. Auschwitz II, better known as Birkenau, was the purpose-built death camp – constructed to murder many thousands of European Jews in the event we now call the Holocaust. The gas chambers here were also used as part of the genocide against the Roma and Sinti people. The third camp, Monowitz, was largely an industrial site utilising slave labour, often Jewish people.
Located in the Polish town of Oswiecim, the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The former camp of Auschwitz I houses exhibitions relating to the history of the camp, including personal belongings of the victims. The former actual sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau provide students with a glimpse of the perpetrators' methods of murder.
Groups can opt for an in-depth guided study tour lasting three and a half hours or a shorter general guided tour.
Due to the nature of this site and the subject being dealt with, it is recommended as only suitable for Key stage 5 (S5–S6) pupils.
Guided Walking Tour
Kraków emerged predominantly intact after WWII and much evidence of its 750 year history can still be seen on a walking tour of the town. A guided Jewish Quarter Walking Tour takes you through the Kazimierz Jewish Quarter, home to the Museum of Judaism and a former ghetto area where all Kraków Jews were forced to resettle in March 1941. Your tour can be extended with visits to the Gothic Old Town, Grand Square and a trip to Wawel Hill & Castle.
Galicia Jewish Museum
Four exhibition galleries make up this museum commemorating victims of the Holocaust. The permanent photographic exhibition, Traces of Memory aims to educate visitors by challenging the stereotypes and preconceptions about Jewish life in Poland and on your visit, your English speaking guide will tailor the tour to the age and educational level of your students.
In 1939, Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler took over a bankrupt and formerly Jewish-owned enamelware factory. By 1942 he was employing over 370 Jewish workers at his factory in Podgórze, Kraków. Initially motivated by money, Schindler became sickened by the treatment of Jews in the Kraków ghetto and, through bribery and the cultivation of relationships with high-ranking Nazis, he managed to have his workers designated as essential to the war effort, thereby saving their lives. By the end of the war, Schindler had managed to save over 1,200 people, whose descendents now number over 6,000.
A visit to the factory and museum provides students with information about its owner and the Jewish prisoners from the Paszów camp who Schindler managed to save.
Podgórze Jewish Quarter
For almost 700 years, Kraków was home to a large Jewish community. In 1941, the German War Administration forced all Jewish people from the Kraków area to resettle in a newly created ghetto in the Podgórze area before they demolished the site and executed most of its 17,000 inhabitants in 1943.
Much of the Holocaust history in Poland is focused on the atrocities which occured at the remote Auschwitz camp, however it is helpful for students to visit Podgórze and its memorial in the Heroes Square to understand the chronology of events which were forced upon the Jewish community within the city of Kraków.
‘Pharmacy under the Eagle’ Museum
When the Germans gave the order to establish a ghetto in the Podgorze district of Krakow, every Polish citizen was instructed to leave the area. Even though he was offered other Jewish owned pharmacies in the city, Tadeusz Pankiewicz the non-Jewish owner, of the Eagle Pharmacy, decided to stay. For the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto the pharmacy not only offered a place from which to get medical supplies, but also became a trusted location to meet and exchange information as well as a place to hide. Closed in 1967, the pharmacy was converted into a restaurant, before being restored in 1983 and now houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to showing life for the Jewish community and the role that Pankiewicz's pharmacy had in the ghetto.
iWitness Study Resources
All our Holocaust Tours are accompanied, free of charge, by our iWitness Study Resources.
As one of the more difficult areas of the curriculum to teach, iWitness encourages students to see the person behind the statistic, to study how key events affected them, their family, and their community as they reflect on the devastating effects of political decisions.
Our Holocaust iWitness includes:
- Teacher Resources
- Student Fieldbook
- Images of life
- Google Earth files
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located just outside Kraków, has been worked since the late 13th Century. With over 200km of underground tunnels, connecting more than 2000 chambers on 9 levels up to 327m below ground, this truly is an eye-opening experience for your students. Over the centuries, miners have carved their own designs into the walls and it now exhibits entire churches, alters, bas-reliefs and many life-size statues, all carved out of the native rock salt. The world’s largest museum of mining is suitably located 135m below the surface and showcases the history of mining and the effects it had on the world above.
Wawel Hill and Castle
An absolute 'must' for visitors, this area is brimming with Polish history and culture. From the 11th century onwards, Poland's monarchs took up their residence here in the Royal Castle and they were both crowned and buried here, in Wawel Cathedral. The castle not only overflows with priceless art treasures, architectural beauties, relics of the past and curiosities, it is also full of glory, magic, history and fable - well worth a visit.
Three pools, Poland’s largest complex of chutes, Jacuzzis, climbing walls, white-water rivers, saunas and steam rooms make this a great place for groups wanting to inject some wet and wild fun into their itinerary.
Head to a restaurant by Kraków’s Main Square and enjoy an evening at the Hawelka Restaurant, one of the most famous establishments in the city. The restaurant is adorned with paintings from the Mloda Polska period, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and, throughout your dinner, you'll be entertained by traditionally clothed musicians and their folk songs and dances.
Why not choose a two-centre tour?
Berlin and Kraków
A tour to both Berlin and Kraków will give students the opportunity to see how and why important political decisions were made, as well as seeing for themselves the devastating consequences these decisions had for ordinary people. In Berlin, your students will learn about how and why the ‘Final Solution’ was put into place, and have the opportunity in Kraków to see the outcome of this decision in a truly heart-rending and challenging visit to Auschwitz.
All of our tours are bespoke, therefore the itinerary below is simply an example; the duration, educational visits, leisure excursions and accommodation centre used will be selected to match the requirements of your group. Please contact us to discuss your bespoke itinerary.
Depart the UK by air for Kraków where you can take a guided walking tour of the Old Town and Kazimerz Jewish Quarter.
Meet your guide for full day excursion to Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Birkenau with the option to stop at Schindler’s Factory on the way. In the evening, depart on foot to a traditional Polish folklore evening which will include a 3-course meal.
Spend the morning awing the intricate sculptures found inside the Wieliczka Salt Mines. You afternoon is free to explore the Old Town and Grand Square at leisure.
Depending on your return flight time, spend morning in the Market Square at the Cloth Hall or a visit to Wawel Castle, then catch your return flight home.
Batory BIS Hotel
The Polish two-star Batory BIS Hotel is located approximately 15 minutes' from the Old Town’s historic centre. All major tourist attractions, restaurants and shops are within easy reach of your hotel, making this an ideal base for school groups. Students will be accommodated in multi-bedded rooms and staff in twins, all with private facilities, TV and telephone. There are 3 function rooms available for hire, as well as wi-fi high-speed internet access.
Prices from £379*
Kraków tour includes:
*Price based on 40 paying passengers and 4 free places travelling by air from London with a low cost airline in low season for 4 days. Priced at 01.02.13.