This Easter, we made the epic trek to Krakow, Poland with 56 pupils as part of their GCSE History studies. Renowned for providing an incredible experience and knowledge for the pupil, evoking difficult emotions at the same time, this was an incredible experience for them.
Upon arriving in the southern city of Kraków, after a 24 hours journey, pupils had lunch in the beautiful and historic market square (one of the largest squares in Europe) before spending the afternoon visiting Wawel Castle and the Cloth Hall.
Morning tour around Krakow, visit to the Remuh Synagogue, the Ghetto and Kazimierz district – a bustling, bohemian neighbourhood, which was the centre of Jewish life in Kraków for four centuries before the Nazi Occupation during World War Two.
While in Kazimierz, we explored modern history, looking at the filming of Schindler’s list and the set location. In the afternoon we saw Oskar Schindler’s factory. Schindler’s former factory, which has been turned into a modern museum of the Nazi Occupation of Kraków, takes up the sprawling administration building of the defunct plant at 4 Lipowa Street. This provided pupils with a valuable insight into the events that led up to the invasion of Poland and the abominable treatment of Kraków’s Jewish population during the Second World War. The final stop of the day saw the pupils visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine – a UNESCO heritage site. The mine was opened in the thirteenth century and produced table salt continuously until 2007. This provided pupils with a wider understanding of Krakow’s history but also an amazing opportunity to venture 100 metres underground.
Pupils travelled to Auschwitz and Birkenau – the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centres. The visit started at Auschwitz 1, the original pre-World War Two concentration camp, where pupils were given an extended tour of the main site. The tour continued at Auschwitz II – Birkenau, the camp established as an extermination centre for European Jews. After a emotionally draining day, pupils headed back to the hotel before a quick change and a final night’s dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.
We all ventured back into Krakow Old Town, which was the centre of Poland’s political life from 1038 until King Sigismund III Vasa relocated his court to Warsaw in 1596. We also visited one of Krakow’s biggest shopping centres before having a late lunch and making our way back onto the coach for the long journey back.
2260 miles travelled, crossing 5 countries. What an amazing experience for our pupils and thank you to all who supported this trip.