After spending time in the Old Jewish Quarter, Krakow Ghetto and Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, it seems as if Krakow is a place defined only by its depressing events from the past. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m not quite sure how to write this post. Having visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, I found it to be a moving experience and I’m not in the least bit ashamed to admit that I was moved to tears on numerous occassions. Even now, thinking back on it makes me emotional. At times I felt a little bit awkward taking photos whilst at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, but my own personal thoughts on this is that it is far, far more important for the events that took place to be documented, discussed and brought to light than risk being forgotten about. Part of what, I think, is support for this way of thinking, is that as early as 1947 Poland had founded the Museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both signify the absolute need for the attrocities that occurred to be laid bare.
There’s a lot of sad history throughout Europe and none more so than that which occurred in Poland during World War II. For centuries, Poland had the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world which by 1939 numbered 3.25 million and comprised 10% of the total Polish population. By the end of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust, only 100,000 remained - a staggering loss of 97% due to systemic murder from the Nazi regime and it sympathisers.