Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Schindler's Museum

Today I was successful in visiting the Oskar Schindler factory.  Along with the Rynek Underground Museum (see previous post), this is one of the newest museums in Kraków.  I was not sure what to expect entirely, because (condemn me if you will) I haven't seen the movie Schindler's List.  I did know he was a German associated with the Nazi party who decided to help some Jews.

So with that minimal background, I entered the world of a Kraków citizen in the 1930s and 1940s.  The museum is designed to immerse the visitor in the surroundings, with walls, floors, objects, sounds, and interactive screens that put you in the shoes of a typical citizen--sometimes a Jewish citizen.  There was so much to take in!  I learned lots, as always.  For example, when the Nazis established Kraków as the seat of one of their regional colonies, the Rynek Główny was renamed "Adolf Hitler Platz."  How disgusting!  Also, the governor of this region moved into Wawel castle and plundered all its cool treasures to Germany. 

And then there was the Jewish ghetto.  Jews were crammed in at first, and then the ghetto gradually shrank as more and more Jews were taken to concentration camps.  All in all, it seemed life under Nazi occupation was downright scary, no matter who you were.  You could be imprisoned and killed for just about anything.

This is a wall with the "list" of the people who Schindler saved by employing them in the factory.  Ironically, the factory made enamels and ammunition for the German army, but whatever gets you out of the concentration camps, right?  What really made these exhibits powerful were the videos of interviews with Jews who had actually worked there and endured arrests--and rescues from concentration camps like Dachau.  It is a great museum.

After going through the museum, I had lunch at the museum cafe.  I met some young people from Australia and New Zealand in the line!  We ended up sitting together and talking about different countries' accents and what we were doing in Poland.  Tangent topic: one Australian laid out the Kiwi accent like this: they mix up the "i" and "e" sounds.  So when they say "pen" it sounds like "pin" to us, and "pin" sounds like "pen".  This was like a eureka moment to me.  So that's what makes them sound so distinctive...

And tonight, Andy and I heard a lovely Chopin piano concert, followed by another excellent dinner, all in a Renaissance/Baroque palace next to Rynek Główny.  We were kind of expecting the dinner and concert to happen simultaneously, though, so we were a bit hungry and impatient once we got downstairs to the restaurant.  It was still delicious, though!

Tomorrow we get to have a day of fun together!  Yay for a holiday!


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