Today was getaway day as we left Nowy Sacz for Krakow. Before we checked into our hotel, however, we stopped by a museum I found online dedicated to the Polish AK in WWII. AK stands for Armia Krajowa and it was the primary Polish armed resistance movement during World War II and the largest from any country in the entire war numbering approximately 400,000 members.
We arranged for an English speaking guide and it was very informative. One of the leaders of the AK in Warsaw during the war was a man named Jozef Rosiek from Zmiaca, Poland…the same town as Agnes Rosiek was from. I didn’t have time to explore how we’re related to him but there is little doubt we are. He was arrested and shot by the gestapo in July of 1943.
The museum itself was designed originally for the Austrian Army and has a secret passage to the railway station for a quick escape. It has served many functions in the year since it was built including use as a bakery before being converted to the museum.
After leaving the museum, we met with a guide Zen had set up for me to give me the “quick” tour around Krakow… it lasted several hours and I must have walked a couple of miles at least.
We were going so fast that I didn’t stop for pictures since I knew I’d have the chance later. One of the most interesting spots was the Jewish Ghetto set up by the Germans during the war. In the middle of the ghetto was a square that still exists which was the place the Germans herded the 65,000 Jews that were sent off to concentration camps. An eye witness to the event noted that many of the Jews sent there brought chairs with them to sit in while they waited and that the chairs were all that was left in the square after the Germans took them all away. Today the square has been left empty except for the 65 permanent chairs placed in the square….one for every 1,000 of Krakow’s Jews that were sent away to their deaths.
This would be one of the first of many sobering sights I witnessed toward the end of my trip regarding the mass murder of Jews during WWII. It was incredibly sad and it’s hard to imagine how people are capable of such horror.
I also saw the alley where the emptying of the suitcases over the railing scene from Schindler’s List was filmed:
Later, Zen and I met up to watch the Polish National Soccer team take on Germany (a far better venue for competition between the two countries).