Pre-war Krakow was a multinational, multicultural and multireligious city. It population oscillated c. 260 000, including approx. 68000 Jews. Unfortunately only a few thousand of them survived of which over 1000 thanks to Oscar Schindler. In the 90’s the whole world learn something more about the businessman from the family of Sudeten Germans. Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (Academy Award winner) shows the history of Jewish inhabitants of Krakow during the World War II from the perspective of Oscar Schindler. He was the owner of an enamel factory in Zablocie district and he fought a heroic battle for lives of his Jewish employees. Which stories depicted in the film were based on real events? You can find it out during the tour with a licensed guide who will tell about the main character of Schindler’s List and will show You all places in which the film crew tried to create the atmosphere of those dark days.
If you want to learn some details of Oscar Schindler’s life, You have to see places where he lived after coming to Krakow 7 September 1939. His first address was an apartment at the Krasinskiego St. 24, from where he moved to the Serego Fenna St. 14/8 and finally to Straszewskiego St. 7/2 where he occupied post-Jewish house (this building is shown in the movie). It was his first contact with a tragic fate of Israeli inhabitants of the occupied city. Most of them lived in Kazimierz district. You can see there preserved legacy of Jewish culture (synagogues, cemeteries, tenements) – a testimony of long presence of Jews in Krakow. In front of the Old Synagogue in Szeroka St., Spielberg shot scenes of Krakow Ghetto (practical reasons do not allow him to shoot it in the place where Ghetto was situated in fact – in Podgorze district). In the courtyard of the house between the Joseph St. and the Meiselsa St. Spielberg shot Ghetto liquidation scenes (March 1943).
Visiting Oscar Schindler’s Factory
Walking at the footsteps of the movie crew we have to visit the former Enamelware Tin Products Factory. In 2010, Museum of the City of Krakow opened in the building the exhibition Krakow under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945.
At the beginning of the war, the factory owner Oscar Schindler employed only Poles till he learned about the possibility of generating more profits through employing Jewish forced laborers who do not have to be paid. Schindler was known as an honest and good employer who did not have more desires than to earn more money. His attitude changed after the first deportation of Jews to concentration camps in June and October 1942. Then he realized that he has a large capabilities and full confidence of the occupation authorities and he wanted to help his Jewish workers by protecting them before deportations. It is proved that he rescued more than 1,000 people.
After the war, Oskar Schindler lived for several years in Germany, then he went to Argentina and finally returned to his homeland and settled down there permanently. His interests unfortunately deteriorated, so he seek the meaning of life and tried to find the satisfying activity. His friendship with survived Jews grew up in the subsequent post-war years.
We highly recommend to read the book Schindler’s Ark and watch the film Schindler’s List before visiting Oscar Schindler’s Factory. Walking tours with a licensed guide will help You explore the topic and no question will be left unanswered…