Krakow
Krakow

In Krakow, Poland’s third largest city located on the Wisla River, Chris, my non- Jewish knowledgeable guide, took me to Kazimierz area, named after the King who ceded this area to the Jews. This Jewish quarter was established in the 15th century and became a ‘self governing ‘separate city’. It is now Krakow’s artsy rendition of New York’s SoHo filled with galleries and cafes and famous for its being the location of Steven Spielberg’s film, Schindler’s List.

At the outbreak of WW II there were about 64,000 Jews in Krakow.Christian, Oskar Schindler saved over 1200 by employing them in his enamelware and munitions factory about a 10 minute drive to the Zoblocie area. Chris knew the guards at Oskar Schindler’s factory on Lipowa 14 (now it is a museum opened to the public, but it wasn’t then and I was the only visitor at that time)and I was able to see the now famous factory, staircase and relatively small office where I sat on the office chair in front of Schindler’s desk.

Although there were once 7 synagogues, only one is still in use. The Remuh Synagogue (Szeroka 40) was built in the 16th century. It’s the second oldest in the area. The courtyard was filled with tourists, even the non -Jews were wearing yarmulkes (skull caps).

Behind is the Old cemetery from 1553 and was in use until 1800. Once again, it is in use today.

The Old Synagogue (Ul. Szeroka 34) built in the 15th century, now a museum, is at the end of the street. Within walking distance is Izaac Synagogue, built 1644, (25 Janba St.) and was devastated but restored. It contains a Holocaust memorial while the Tall or High Synagogue (38 Jozefa St.) is a monument. Temple Synagogue (24 Miodowazy) once the Reformed ‘shul’. dates bacl to the late 1600s and at the time I visited,was is in the process of being renovated. Popper’s Synagogue (16 Szerola) no longer in use. And little remains of the interior of 17th century Kup Synagogue (Warszawera 8).

Krakow
One of the café and market places in the center
of the city

Krakow
Oscar Schindler’s building

Each had curious and some were tearful tourists, perhaps have lived in this area with their own private memories.

A small fact is the cosmetic genius, Helena Rubinstein, was born across Remuh Synagogue.

And the truth be told, although there is a kosher restaurant, it isn’t owned by Jews nor are most of the stores that are in that area.

Although Krakow is a vibrants city with a great market place and outstanding architecture, great hall, wonderful out door cafes and many enticing shops, there’s something about the city that just doesn’t feel right. It has not soul. In fact, after the friendly locals of Warsaw, here there was a somewhat hidden anti-social aspect where visitors were pushed and shoved. In fact, I was grateful to leave Krakow and head of to other parts of Poland, a country that is now trying desparately to apologize for their flagrant anti semitism. But that will take many centuries since there seems to be an inherent DNA that seems to expose itself one sway or another. Yes, Krakow is considered beautiful but it is like a beautiful gold digger with no heart with only a narcissistic interest in what her pretty face could achieve purely for her benefit..

Krakow

Krakow
Oscar Schindler’s office

Krakow
Interior of synagogue

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