• Pen Y Dre Staff

Miss Howell and Miss Draper were fortunate enough to take 24 learners to Krakow, Poland on a four day educational visit.  The purpose of the visit was to explore the consequences of the Holocaust in Poland and the affect that the Holocaust had on the Jewish population.  When we first arrived at Krakow we were amazed by how beautiful the city was - the city had been protected in the war and had survived with only one bomb being dropped.  The city is incredibly old and most of the architecture is still medieval. The photo you can see is of the main Krakow Christmas Market.

On our first day we visited the Auschwitz- Birkenau camps and the experience was so harrowing and heart wrenching.  It was hard to comprehend the horror that occurred at the camps because it was on such a massive scale.  We visited both camps and received a guided tour from a Polish man that had a wealth of knowledge on the subject.  We also observed a silence in the last remaining gas chamber.  Both the learners and I were astonished to learn the extent of the destruction and found it powerful to see so many of the original structures and artefacts still on display.

On the morning of our second day we were taken on a walking tour of the city; we were shown the university quarter and had a guided tour of the main cathedral.  The cathedral itself was the home of Pope Joh Paul II and is a very special place for the Polish people.  In the afternoon we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines.  The only way to describe the visit was mind blowing.  The mines are a total of 250 miles long and they were established in the 14th century.  Every single item in the mine was made purely of salt; this includes a massive underground cathedral.  The cathedral itself is the oldest functioning underground Catholic Church in the world.  We learnt that the salt deposits were over 13 million years old.  In the evening we treated the learners to a visit to the Hard Rock Café and we explored the Christmas markets at night.

 On our final day in Krakow we went on a walking tour of the Kazimierz District.  This is where the Jewish community had previously lived and worked in Krakow.  Sadly, the community no longer has any Jewish members.  The district was used to film the Oscar winning film, Schindler’s List.  Later in the day was visited Oscar Schindler’s Factory for a guided tour.  The factory did not just tell us the history of Oscar Schindler but the factory is now used to tell the story of thousands of Jewish people living under the occupation of Nazi Germany.  The tour recreated the streets and ghettos of Krakow making the tour a valuable visual aid in understanding the persecution of the Jews.



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