Next trip: Krakow

Apparently, studying at a distance-education university does not only mean that I can study from anywhere, but also that they are taking me on trips. As part of my studies in history, I’ll be going on a field trip to Poland, starting tomorrow. And of course we picked the Polish city steeped in history the most: Krakow.

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The four-day workshop is called “Policies of memory and history in a Polish metropolis from 1900 to 1970”, encompassing anything from cultural history with art nouveau, Polski Jazz and a visit of the Wyspianski Museum as well as Jewish artists, the example of Socialist city planning Nova Huta, student protests and anti-Semitism in Poland after 1945. But I am not even sure if we are still allowed to discuss that topic in Poland now. In any case, the current debate just makes the seminar even more timely.

A large part will of course be taken up by the German occupation from 1939 on and by the Holocaust. We will visit both the city of Auschwitz and the former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The former ghetto in Podgórze and the camp for forced laborers in Plaszów are topics as well, as is Oskar Schindler. As always, I got stuck with a legal topic, so I will present my thoughts on the question whether claims for compensation are a path or a hindrance to reconciliation.

krakau-birkenau

In a way, I am surprised that I haven’t been to Poland yet. After all, it’s a neighboring country. – And even my grandfathers already visited or rather invaded it in 1939, trying to create Lebensraum for Germans, not having the slightest clue that only two generations later, their families would die out with me anyway. (And trust me, even the largest living space thinkable wouldn’t convince me to produce any offspring.) But I have always been curious about Poland, hence I am using this academic trip to stay in Krakow for five additional days, until 20 June. If I like it, I will return to explore more of Poland.

There is only one thing that worries me. When I find myself in places of mass murder, which is hard to avoid in Eastern Europe if you travel with open eyes, I prefer to be alone. I like to take my time there, reflecting and sitting in the forest or the grass for a few hours. That’s obviously not an option when I am part of a group of well-prepared students. We will see how that goes.

As always when I go on a trip, if you want a postcard from Krakow, just send me an e-mail.

(Hier gibt es diese Reiseankündigung auf Deutsch.)

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Education, History, Holocaust, Poland, Travel, World War II and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Next trip: Krakow

  1. Wow. That field trip sounds really interesting! Unlike mine that I remember;) you will enjoy Krakow a lot, I promise.

  2. I wish you the best. I wish I’d just stuck to Krakow when I went.

    • I am also happy with the decision to stay there longer instead of trying to squeeze in trips to Warsaw, Zakopane or Katovice. It’s such a huge country, if I like it, I will just have to move there for a year.

  3. renatevermaas says:

    I visited Krakow on my own for 5 days in 2017. Loved it!! yes, I did the tour to Auschwitz and as you say I wish I could be there on my own and not with the masses of people that are pushed through. Highlight for me was the Wieliczka mine. Enjoy your trip

  4. I very much understand the wish to be on your own and not with a tour group, on the visit to Auschwitz – although I don’t know if I could even bring myself to visit there, the place where my grandparents were murdered.
    I would be interested to read your thoughts on the question whether claims for compensation are a path or a hindrance to reconciliation.

  5. brokenradius says:

    Hi Andreas, isn’t it illegal now to talk about anti-semitism in Poland ??? The Sejm passed this new law in amended form on January 26, 2018. As another blogger (Jacobin) wrote:” ….This legislation allows them to indulge racists, homophobes, and antisemites on the one hand and, on the other, to prosecute “communists,” foreigners, historians, publishers, and witnesses to the Holocaust…”
    And as a foreigner, a historian and a publisher (did I forgot something) you fit nicely into their profile of target suspects.

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