On Auschwitz I and II (Poland)

Forgetting them means letting them die again. (Elie Wiesel)

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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

 

Night, night without end, no dawn comes. (Tadeusz Borowski)

 

We have to remember, always, but it’s never easy. (Alberto Israel)

 

Auschwitz cries out with the pain of immense suffering and pleads for a future of respect, peace, and encounters among people. (Pope Francis)

 

Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity. (on a plaque)

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It happened, therefore it can happen again. (Primo Levi)

 

Any denial of the facts is a denial of the truth (A. E. Samaan)

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Personal note: Everyone should visit Auschwitz I and II at least once in their life. I never realized that the two are a 5-minute ride apart. At Auschwitz I, exhibits as hair, suitcases, shoes, and belongs can rattle the soul – but the size of Auschwitz II (aka Birkenau) is staggering. For me, I’m glad we didn’t have a guide – therefore, at the chance to move and contemplate on our own.

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Next stop: Eger

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On Krakow (Poland)

Krakow – Poland second largest city (pop. 750,000); Poland’s economic, education, arts, and culture center, Poland’s capital until 1596

Krakow – It’s Old Town contained within walls (some still exist) and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The large Main Market Square is a vibrant place!

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Krakow – Home to Krakow Castle found on Wawel Hill above the Vistula River across from Old Town. To me, not only was Wawel Cathedral the most magnificent church I saw on the trip – it was one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.

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Krakow – A place where revered Karol Wojtyla spent much time before becoming Pope John Paul II.

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Krakow – Not bombed in WW2, but is home to Oskar Schindler’s factory and the Jewish Ghetto (in Kazimierz neighborhood). The factory is now a museum about the war in Poland while the Ghetto is in a rejuvenation period. Looking up the long stairway reminded me of the scene when a lady came to the factory for an interview, and Mr. Schindler was standing at the top of the stairs.

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Poland has a rich history, and compared to many other European countries, it was large. I didn’t know that during part of the 18th Century, Poland didn’t exist because the land was divided among Prussia, Austria, and Russia. As for Krakow, the visit here was the most surprising of the trip. To learn more about Krakow, I encourage you to watch the 3-minute video because from Rick Steves.

Next stop: Auschwitz

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