Is it worth searching for your roots? Today, it is difficult to imagine that pre-war Poland was a multicultural country. The most numerous social minority were Jews who, deprived of their country for hundreds of years, found their asylum in […]
Today, it is difficult to imagine that pre-war Poland was a multicultural country. The most numerous social minority were Jews who, deprived of their country for hundreds of years, found their asylum in Poland. Persecuted in many other European countries, they found their second homeland in Poland. For over a thousand years of settlement in our country, they managed to have a huge impact on culture. We know from the accounts of our ancestors that they were assimilating with the Poles – they worked together, went to school, socialize, and set up business together.
Unfortunately, due to the horrors of the Second World War, which had the character of ethnic cleansing, it is estimated that even 6 million Jews lost their lives. Those who survived these traumatic events immigrated mainly to the newly established state – Israel or settled in the USA, Canada or the countries of South America.
Contemporary Semites are the third post-war generation. They know their fates from the stories of their grandparents and history textbooks. For many of them, oral communication is definitely not enough. Thanks to enormous technological possibilities, they want to see with their own eyes the country where their ancestors spent their youth. It is estimated that every year more and more Jews visit Poland to get to know their roots more closely. Since the 1990s, the Polish authorities have been trying to rebuild Polish-Israeli relations, creating religious communities and educational institutions.
In order to meet your expectations, BCA Travel Poland has prepared a number of trips that will allow you to better understand the history of the Jewish nation. Krakow itself is a place of memorabilia from this period. It was here that the most important social, religious and political groups operated, resulting in a unique cultural mix in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish. It is worth going on this amazing trip, because the city authorities with special respect care about these relics of the past. During a visit to Poland, it is worth visiting the Remu Jewish Cemetery – one of the oldest burial sites in Europe and the New Jewish Cemetery established at the beginning of the 19th century.
Krakow is a city in which there are also a lot of synagogues. These holy places are very important in the life of every Jew. The most important are: the Remuh Synagogue, the Tempel Synagogue, the Isaac Synagogue, the Kupa Synagogue and the Old Synagogue. It is worth noting that these are places visited by pilgrims from all over the world, because their function is not only a sacral one but they also gather the Jewish community scattered throughout the world.
In addition to the above-mentioned places, it is also worth visiting the Pharmacy „Pod Orłem”( „Under the Eagle”), located at the Ghetto Heroes Square. This place commemorates the tragic history of the Krakow ghetto. This is where the most conspiratorial actions against the Nazis took place. Other places commemorating these events are: the Galicja Museum and the Schindler Factory Museum.
Another, obligatory point on the map of every tourist is the museum of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It is a place that forces people to momentarily stop at the moment of life and makes us reflect. When visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, we suddenly discover that we are learning history in order to learn from it and not to make the same mistakes. The former concentration camp is visited not only by Europeans but also attracts tourists from even the furthest corners of the world.
Also in Warsaw there are numerous places associated with Jewish culture. The most frequently visited are: the Jewish Cemetery located in Wola (the second largest in Poland), the Nożyk Synagogue and the Historical Museum. It is worth visiting the Jewish Historical Institute, which not only implements educational projects but also has its own exhibition, Ringelblum archive and library. You can also visit the Lauder School Complex, promoting all values of Jewish culture.
Only 130 kilometers from Warsaw there is another city – Łódź. It was here in the years of occupied Poland that one of the largest ghettos functioned. The contemporary district of Bałuty – the area of the historical ghetto – is a place that is very well marked and it is not possible to get lost here, because 90 granite slabs are setting boundaries. In addition, seven information boards have been set up in this area.
The authorities of other cities also commemorate historical places that remind about the tragic history of Jews during the Second World War. In the east of the country, in Lublin, take a walk through the alleys of the Jewish cemetery and see the Yeshiva university. Being in the vicinity of Lublin you should visit the State Museum at Majdanek. These are the ruins of the Nazi concentration camp and prison for prisoners of war. Its creation was aimed at Germanizing the eastern territories of Europe and carrying out ethnic cleansing there.
Other, frequently visited places by the Jewish community from around the world are: Góra Kalwaria, concentration camp in Treblinka, salt mine in Wieliczka. It is also worth paying attention to the beautiful synagogues in Kraśnik, Łańcut, Włodawa and Zamość.
Searching for your Jewish roots in Poland may turn out to be an amazing adventure. Perhaps it will be not only to visit the places where your ancestors lived, but you will meet distant relatives?
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