Editor’s Note: A group of local teachers is visiting Auschwitz, Poland, this week to mark the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The week-long trip is being led by Terre Haute-based CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which was founded by Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, who died in July 2019. The educators are sharing their experiences with Journal Review readers. This is the fifth installment in a six-part series.
On our fifth day of touring, teachers explored Wieliczka Salt Mine, which attracts 1.8 million visitors annually. The salt mine is from the 14th century and continues to be in operation today, producing items such as bath salts, cosmetics and seasoning salt. We traveled down over 1,000 feet to view chapels and sculptures made entirely from salt. One unique feature of the mine is that it has a health resort.
After returning to ground level, our next stop was Plazow Concentration Camp. This forced labor camp was constructed on two Jewish cemeteries covering 200 acres, consisting of 200 barracks and no crematorium. Buildings from Plazow were destroyed by the Nazis before it was liberated by the Russian army; however, a beautiful monument representing five nationalities stands before a mass grave.
Finally, teachers enjoyed learning the history of the Jewish settlement in Kraków beginning in the 14th century by visiting the Jewish quarter. Sixty-eight thousand Jewish people peacefully lived in Kraków until 1939 with the beginning of World War II. The Jewish population was either forced to relocate from Kraków or moved into the ghetto. Oskar Schindler’s enamel factory provided work for over 1,000 of the Jews living in the ghetto or in Plazow, ultimately saving their lives.