This past weekend my classmates and I went to Auschwitz. We boarded a train on Thursday and 11 hours later we were in Poland. It felt like the hours that I’d spent reading on various topics concerning the Holocaust this past month was all leading up to this point. As if to say that I would soon be reaching the climax in the story that was my time in Prague. I was nervous and anxious about what awaited me there.
Our first day we went to the Schindler Museum in Krakow, Poland. It was amazing (please excuse my use of an overly common word). The way the museum was set-up is optimal for educational purposes. It takes you through the years of 1939-1945 (the start and end of the Nazi invasion). It’s a little hard to explain the actual set-up of the place but I’ll try. It is a multi-level building that forces visitors to go a certain way to get to the end. Along the way are four cards that you can stamp as sort of signatures of where you’re at in the war.
The entire museum is interactive. You can watch videos of testimonies from those who were there and the maps are touch-screen and you can read about what was happening at different locations. Moreover, even the walls and floors are designed to mimic how the people felt at specific times. For example, the second to last room you enter is a dark tunnel that has a huge picture of Stalin to signify the start of the communist regime and the floor consists of uneven and bumpy mats. The message is that even after the war no one could find solid ground to walk on.
The entire experience was impacting and well orchestrated. I would highly recommend it to anyone who might find themselves in Poland. I very much hope to find myself there again.