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Anna Kraus: pre-Sanok travels

by on 23 Jun 2011

Polish student Anna Kraus is a part of the third student group.  She reports on the group’s travel together before coming to Sanok.  Anna writes: 

I am Polish and live in Warsaw. Last year I graduated history. Since May 2010 I have been cooperating with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I was the news’ editor of the Virtual Shtetl portal dedicated to the Jewish heritage and today’s life in Central  Eastern Europe. I am involved in few educational projects for the Museum. I conduct workshops for Polish and Israeli teenagers and I give tours round Jewish memory sites in Warsaw.

*     *     *

The second day, guided by Handshouse coordinators and a student mentor from the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the students went to Oświęcim, where they visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp. In the years from 1940-1945, about one million Jews, 150 thousand Poles, 23 thousand Roma and 30 thousand people of other ethnic origins were slaughtered there. We became familiar with a painful history of the camp and learned about everyday life of the prisoners and how they were killed by the Nazis. They also saw many objects displayed at the exhibition on Auschwitz I, which included things of which the victims were robbed by Nazis, such as shoes, brushes, dishes, suitcases or glasses. Tons of piled human hair that was used by Nazis for textile manufacturing left the biggest impression on the young visitors. Afterwards, the students went to Birkenau, where they commemorated the victims…

In the afternoon, the whole group visited Wieliczka to see the famous salt mine, where they walked for three kilometers, admiring underground chapels and salt statues. They were told how salt was mined in the Middle Ages and why it was called “white gold.”  At the end, they  met Skarbek, the mine’s ghost…

At the end of the day, they ended up in Kazimierz, in Krakow, where they tasted Jewish food and listened to Klezmer  music.

On third day in the morning, the group left from Krakow to Sanok. On their way, they visited three wooden churches inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list. They first stopped in Lipnica Muranowa, where there is the St. Leonard Church, which is of the oldest churches in Poland, dating from the first half of the 12th century. The students were fascinated by  a pole which supported the altar. In turned out that long time ago it had been a part of a statue of the pagan god Światowid. They were also intrigued by colorful wall paintings depicting scenes from the New Testament and by a tree near the church. The cavity in the tree was so big that almost all students managed to enter inside.

Next, the students visited Binarowa, where in front of the St. Michael Archangel Church the accidentally met a group who just finished their work in Sanok and, via Krakow, was going back to the USA. Both groups exchanged their experiences while having lunch under a shelter. New comers got to know what their work on reconstructing the synagogue’s roof will be like. Interestingly, there were not put off by having to get up early or by the vision of painful blisters on their hands!

Having said goodbye to their friends, they went to the church to have a close look at  images of seven deadly sins and representations of a sudden death, which may be the wages of sin. They also visited the chapel beautifully decorated with the images of angels as mustachioed Polish hussars and saw a vestry with a historical gate which traces back to the 16th century.

The final stop on the wooden architecture trail was a wooden church in Sękowa. Although it just started to rain, the students ran to the church to see the mannerist altar. They also admired unique arcades called ‘sobótki’ in Polish and an interesting construction of the church’s tower.

In the late afternoon, they reached Sanok where they had the opportunity to meet the good soldier Svejk and try so-called smurf ice cream.

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One Comment
  1. This looks amazing, so good to see it built, and I’m jealous that we, Group 2, had to leave just before it started to pull together. You all did a fantastic job!!

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