Such is its proximity in central Europe to Germany and the old U.S.S.R. Poland has a rich history when it comes to war and its impacts. Poland featured heavily in World War Two as Adolf Hitler sought to impose his Third Reich beliefs on Europe as a whole. As the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews, Poland’s lands were home to many of the death camps and witness the Holocaust first hand. The Poles and the Jews witnessed the true horrors of war throughout this time and there are still many scars on the nation as a result of the harm done by their oppressors.
For history buffs out there, Poland makes for an interesting an educational place to take a history tour and the remnants from days gone by have now become solemn tourist spots. If you want to see more of Poland’s history then here are some of the places that you should be visiting.
Holocaust and Death Camps
Poland was filled with Nazi death camps and sites where the Nazis placed the prisoners under forced labor. Many of these sites still exist and you can visit them at places like Belzec, Chelmno, Gross-Roden and Subibor amongst others. In these sites you will see where the prisoners were held, how they were exterminated and what conditions the Jews were unfairly forced to live under. The most famous of all of the death camps is Auschwitz where an estimated 1.1 million people were killed, you can visit the site of Auschwitz but beware that this is a trip that will leave you emotionally drained.
World War II Sites
There are many notable locations throughout Poland where you can visit sites from the second World War and here are some of the most popular.
- The Riese Complex – A vast network of underground passages and tunnels set in the Owl Mountains which to this day remains unfinished. It is thought that the underground project was going to be for storage of secret weapons or even an nuclear factory.
- Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region – This was built to defend the Third Reich and features a network of tunnels and bunkers covered by iron domes. The tunnels have large, sharp pieces of metal hanging down which were anti-tank devices and this region outside Poznan has been well preserved so that visitors can get a great insight into this period.
Krakow Old Town
It is not just the World War that has defined the history of Poland and for a fantastic glimpse into its medieval past, you need to head to the Old Town in Krakow. This region of Krakow was registered non the UNESCO World Heritage list and features much architecture from the medieval age, along with the scars and bruises that were left on the many walls and buildings as a result of internal battles and raids.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
Oskar Schindler was a German spy who helped to save over 1,200 Jews from death after employing them in his enamel factory. The buildings of the factory have now been turned into an art museum and as part of the history museum and you can see where the savior of the Jews took place.