A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Very few museums have managed to capture my attention as one particular museum in the city of Krakow has. The museum I am referring to is the Oskar Schindler factory museum situated in the Kazimierz district of Krakow, Poland.
This particular place was made internationally famous through the cult Spielberg movie, ‘The Schindler’s List’ essentially depicting the life of Oskar Schindler which was immortalized on the screen by Liam Neeson. Having watched this movie countless times, the haunting soundtrack by Yitzhak Perlman and the incredible picturisation by Spielberg meant that this movie had left a powerful and indelible impression on my mind.
I literally had goosebumps when I entered into the museum. This is essentially the ‘Oskar Schindler enamelled goods factory’, the original name of which is ‘Fabryka Schindlera’ which has been turned into a world class museum that depicts the wartime experiences in Krakow. The original Schindler factory was producing cookware and varied metal vessels during the Second World war. Apparently it also served in a role as an ammunition factory.
This museum takes up the administration building of the defunct plant at Lipowa Street. Perhaps what makes this museum unique is the fact that it accurately depicts what it was like to live in a Ghetto in Poland during the Second World War. One can find messages by Roman Polanski who was then, a kid stuck in the Krakow ghetto. One can find the artillery which has used by the Axis powers in occupied Poland.
Oskar Schindler, his factory, and the fate of its Jewish workforce feature prominently in the museum. Roughly a sixth of the museum’s permanent exhibition is dedicated to them. The rest shows pre-war Krakow, Krakow as the capital of Poland under occupation, the sorrows of everyday living in the occupied city, family life, the wartime history of Krakow Jews, the resistance movement, the underground Polish state, and lastly the Soviet capture of the city. All these are efficiently conveyed using vast archival documents, photos, radios, film recordings and dynamic multimedia installations. The centrepiece of the part of the exposition dealing with Oskar Schindler himself is his office which has been incredibly preserved.
Of course the highlight of the museum would be the actual list of people who were saved by Oskar Schindler and if you have seen the Spielberg movie and love it this is one sight which will bring in a lump into your throat.