Oskar Schindler's Factory, Krakow
When I visited Krakow in 2006 the museum in Schindler's Emalia factory had not yet opened, although it was planned. When I visited in 2010 I missed the opening by just a few weeks. So I was very pleased indeed to be able to visit on my 2013 trip.
If you are expecting a museum devoted entirely to Schindler and his work, you will be disappointed. The museum focus is Krakow during the Occupation (1939-1945): Schindler forms only a small part of what is on offer, although a small 'cinema' shows a video including people who worked in the factory telling of their experiences (English subtitles). That part is absolutely essential, imo.
The museum is set out as a series of interlinked, and quite small, rooms. Most are stuffed with artefacts, information and photos. On a freezing March morning the 'enclosed' feeling of the labyrinthine series of rooms (on several different floors) was bearable, and the museum not too busy, but I think it will be a very different experience in hot weather and with throngs of visitors....and perhaps not a very pleasant one.
I found the content of the museum fascinating but there is a huge amount of reading (English translations generally provided) and looking to be done in order to make sense of some of the exhibits. For those with little or no knowledge of the period this could be quite a challenge.
I do wonder whether those who created this museum...which has so many fascinating historical artefacts and information.... realised quite how important, and how popular it would be? I'm sure, in high season and especially in hot weather, it will be crowded and really rather uncomfortable...perhaps they will limit entrance numbers?...and they have only provided one toilet for each gender. It is the first time I have seen men queueing for the toilet.
There's a cloakroom where you can leave coats and bags, and a tiny cafe too ( I doubt it seats more than 10 people).
But, despite all this, I am so glad I visited. This museum is entirely unmissable and, like Kazimierz, is an absolutely essential part of any visit to Krakow.
You'll need to visit Plac Boterow Getta as well, once the centre of Krakow's Jewish ghetto and the spot from which the transports left. The metal chairs of varying heights scattered around the square were placed in 2005 and are a memorial to those thousands who died.
The 'Apteka Pod Orlem' was the pharmacy for the ghetto, run by the only Gentiles allowed to live in the ghetto. It is now a museum but was not open when I visited (although it should have been). Opening hours on the website here.
I have visited the old Oskar Schindler Factory twice before and was looking forward to visiting the new museum housed in the old buildings. Probably liked other visitors I was expecting more to be shown about the factory, Oskar Schindler and life for workers. Instead only a small portion is given over to this and the majority of the museum covers life in Krakow during the war. The museum has no obvious route as you wander around and it is easy to miss some of the displays. I was a disappointed and thought a great opportunity had been missed. Most people are only aware of the factory because of the film by Steven Spielberg and the museum could easily have covered more of life in the factory. I am not saying that life in Krakow during the war was not important but this could have been based in another museum. If exhibits were in short supply then more could have been shown about the film. There are large photographs relating to the film in the downstairs coffee shop.
The Schindler old ceramic factory is on the outskirts of Krakow in a district called Podgorze.
The name Oskar Schindler became known more readily by the author Thomas Knealy, who wrote Schindlers Ark which was later turned into the Spielberg classic Schindlers List.
Oskar Schindler's actions during the Nazi reign of terror saved over 1,100 Jews from certain death in extermination camps. During the violent raid on the Krakow ghetto in 1942, Schindler a business man & a member of the Nazi party was appalled at the Gestapo's actions. He set up the enamelware factory in Podgorze with the help of a jewish accountant he hired a jewish labour force. He used the his charm & the black market to bribe officials to secure the success of his factory. He managed to bribe officers & was able to move 1,100 to his new factory in Czechoslovakia which were to create ammunitions although not a single weapon that left his factory could be fired.
Oskar Schindler is buried in a catholic cemetery in Mt Zion in Jerusalem and was honoured in 1967 as one of the Righteous among the nations.
The part of the factory visitors have access to is very small, there is a short film & a small display about his life with some survivors memories of him. We took a taxi here & when we wanted to leave felt a bit stranded as it is in the middle of nowhere with no taxis frequenting the place. We were able to get a lift back on a tuc-tuc tour but this cost us 15zl each whereas the taxi ride there was 15zl. The factory itself is free entry
Schindler's factory is located just outside the city centre of Krakow but is still a walkable distance from the Jewish quarter. When I visited the exhibition at the end of April 2007 it was small as it had been open only a couple of weeks. For a small fee (3 zloty) you could see Schindler's office and the view across the factory from the office. There was also an interesting exhibition of text detailing what Schindler did before, during and after Nazi occupation. There was also a guide on hand who gave a brief introduction to the museum and answered any questions put to him.
I know they were seeking further funding when I was there to expand the museum and to perhaps restore one of the factory buildings (they are currently derelict) and buy some Schindler related artefacts so perhaps it will be bigger and better when you go.
To get to the factory exit the Jewish district and head over the river using ul. Starowislna. Once over the river, head down the road for a bit until you get to ul. Kacik on your left. Walk down there for a long way until you get to a railway bridge. Walk under the bridge and you will get to ul. Powia. The factory is on the right a bit further down the road. It should take 15-20mins to walk from the Old Synagogue.
A bit off the beaten track....quite a walk from the main part of town you will find Oskar Schindler's factory. The front of the building and some inside shots were used in the Schindler's List film.
It´s close to Kazimierz, but it's in not a great area, and we needed a map to find it. Not a lot to actually see, but if the security guard is there he may let you in to have a look around. I think they are planning to turn it more into a museum in the future as there is currently (2006) not a lot to show its significance
I was disappointed that this was closed for an exhibition when I was there but I took some pictures of the exterior.