Many visitors to Kraków take the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps, about an hour and a half away. It is a harrowing and moving experience and, understandably, not something everyone is comfortable in doing.
Thankfully, the newly opened Schindler Factory Museum in Podgórze offers a deep and respectful overview of this terrible time, but with the upbeat twist. The factory was owned by Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved over a thousand Jewish lives by employing them to work in his factory and keeping them out of the Nazi death camps. You’ve probably seen ‘Schindler's List’, the Steven Spielberg movie his story inspired.
There’s only one room dedicated to Schindler in the museum – his office on the second floor. There’s a desk and a plaster map of Europe. And a giant a commemorative cube, featuring a wall of the enamel pots and the names of all those Schindler saved.
The rest of the exhibition is excellent too. It tells the story of life in Kraków during Nazi occupation in powerful and innovative ways.
Make sure you have a wander around the rest of Podgórze while you’re there. It’s one of Kraków’s up-and-coming areas, with lots of new cafes and bars and restaurants as well as poignant reminders of its heart-breaking past. Like the last stretch of ghetto wall on ul Lwowska and Plac Bohaterów Getta, where sculptures of chairs, laid out in a grid, memorialise the furniture that was left abandoned here when the ghetto was liquidated in 1942.