I got back late last night from a weekend break in Krakow with my mum and one of my sisters. I have visited this lovely city twice before but my mum wanted to go to Auschwitz before her 60th birthday so we went with her.
Her father was a refugee from Czechoslovakia so friends and family have tragic stories of lives lost in concentration camps throughout Europe so this was something she wanted to do. I have been before but my sister is a history teacher so this trip felt like we had a personal guide.
We had two days to explore the city before our visit to Auschwitz so we spent them enjoying gluhwein and sauerkraut at the Christmas market and taking in some tourist attractions.
A highlight was having a tour of the Communist built Nowa Huta area in a Trabant with Crazy Guideswe were a bit apprehensive this could be a big naff if they concentrated too much on being ‘crazy’ but our fun guide was passionate about the area, having lived most of his early life there and was a real history fan so spoke fascinatingly and enthusiastically about this very recent history of Poland. The car was noisy and smelt like a lawn mower and I loved it, we chugged past amazing architecture hearing tales of Communist idealism, daily life for its inhabitants, politics and censorship.
Toilet roll became very scarce in the 1980s and here are examples of the rationing tickets for bread and meat. The paper bag is from an American owned shop that sold expensive Western treats! I loved this wall display!
We drove past the nucleus of the development, the sprawling old steelworks, only partially used and all very top secret but check out this gorgeous text..
We also visited Schindlers Factory museum which I think has one of the best curated exhibitions I have visited, I felt quite inspired for Fancy Pants
We also went to the Pharmacy Museum which holds a fabulous collection of medicine related ephemera including lots of old glass and porcelain specimen and medicine bottles and packaging, I’m a sucker for old labels and their illustrations!
We visited Auschwitz on a crisp, bright, cold day and in its cleaned up, sterile state its hard to imagine anything near to how horrific this hellish site was. I feel conflicted with it being a ‘tourist attraction’ but as my sister said, atleast for just a couple of hours, everyone visiting for whatever reason, is thinking about the people who suffered there.