The rather excellent Schindler’s Factory Museum in Kraków
Oskar Schindler’s old enamel factory in Podgórze was top of my list of things to see in Kraków.
It was where Oskar Schindler, a German factory owner, saved over a thousand Jewish lives by employing them to work in his factory and keeping them out of the Nazi death camps.
You’ve probably seen the Steven Spielberg movie, Schindler’s List.
The real Oskar Schindler was more ‘nuanced’ than the figure portrayed in the movie.
He originally employed Jewish people from the ghetto because they were cheap labour.
But his efforts to save his workers from the camps is a rare ray of light in this dark period of human history.
Turns out, there’s only one room dedicated to Schindler in the museum – his office on the second floor.
There you’ll find his desk and a plaster map of Europe.
And a giant a commemorative cube, featuring a wall of the enamel pots and the names of all those Schindler saved.
The rest of the exhibition is excellent too. It tells the story of life in Kraków during Nazi occupation in powerful and innovative ways. I’m sure it helped that I was the only person there when I visited, but I was super impressed.
Make sure you have a wander around the rest of Podgórze while you’re there.
It’s an old working class neighbourhood, just across the river from Kazimierz and one of Kraków’s up-and-coming areas.
You’ll find lots of new cafes and bars and restaurants but there are lots of poignant reminders of the area’s heartbreaking past.
Like the last stretch of ghetto wall on ul Lwowska.
And Plac Bohaterów Getta. The chair sculptures scattered across the square here represent the furniture that was left abandoned here when the ghetto was liquidated in 1942.