World War 2nd sites in Poland
DAY 1 ARRIVAL – GDANSK
Arrival in Gdansk. Airport transfer to the hotel. Welcome dinner in a traditional Polish restaurant in the Old Town.
DAY 2 GDANSK
Breakfast. We start our tour in a symbolic place – Westerplatte peninsula. Here, on 1st September 1939 a German battleship Schleswig-Holstein without any warning opened fire on a Polish garrison. It was the first battle between Polish and German forces and also the first clash of the World War 2nd. We continue to Gdynia to visit ORP Blyskawica – currently a museum ship, the oldest preserved destroyer in the world. This ship was serving in the Polish Navy during the WW 2nd.
In the afternoon - of sightseeing of Gdansk – the city of 1000-years history, attracting tourist by numerous gems of architecture. Strolling around the town you’ll see the beautiful merchant’s houses, St. Mary’s church (believed to be the largest brick church in the world),the Long street with the Gothic Main Town Hall, Artus Court and the Neptune’s fountain in the Long Market – the city’s most important square, Motlava river and the Crane. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 3 MALBORK - WARSAW
Breakfast. Departure for Malbork Castle (UNESCO). About 60 km from Gdansk in 13th century the Order of Teutonic Knights started to build a large fortress. The Gothic building is considered to be the world’s biggest brick castle. During War, the pledges of youths entering the Hitler Youth took place there, as well as the military vows of the soldiers heading out to the eastern front. A big part of the castle was damaged during the German – Russian fights in 1945.
In the evening – arrival in Warsaw, dinner and overnight.
DAY 4 WARSAW
Breakfast. Guided tour of Warsaw. The capital of Poland was severely damaged during the Second World War and most of the architecture represents the post-war period. Our tour starts in the Old Town (since 1980 on UNESCO list as “an exceptional example of the comprehensive reconstruction of a city that had been deliberately and totally destroyed”). You’ll see the Royal Castle, St. John’s Cathedral, Old Market Square and Barbican. To let you know closer the sad war history of Warsaw, you’ll watch a documentary about the city 1939-1945 Warsaw will remember in the Historical Museum of Warsaw. Next we’ll see the Tomb of Unknown Soldier, Warsaw Uprising 1944 Monument, remains of the Ghetto wall and visit the Warsaw Rising Museum. By linking history with modernity, memorial site with modern exhibition techniques the museum founders try to convey the climate of those times, recreate the atmosphere of fighting Warsaw, show, not only the military struggle of the rising that lasted 63, days but also everyday life of civilians.
Dinner and overnight in Warsaw.
DAY 5 WARSAW – LODZ – WROCLAW
Breakfasf. Departure for Wroclaw. Short stop in Lodz (former centre of Polish textile industry) – after the German invasion of Poland in 1939 renamed for Litzmannstadt. The Nazi authorities organized in Lodz one of the biggest ghettos in Poland – about 200 000 Jews were kept there. The city didn’t suffer much damages due to bombing, but lost almost whole of its infrastructure (the factories were confiscated by Germans and the machines transported to Germany). We visit the Memorial to Holocaust Victims at the Radegast Railway station (the citizens of Lodz were transported from here to concentration camps).
In the afternoon – arrival in Wroclaw. The city survived undamaged until 1944, till that moment it used to be a refuge for hundreds of people evacuated from other parts of Germany (till 1945 the city was within the German state borders). After the fighting with Red Army in first months of 1945, a lot of buildings was completely ruined. Walking tour of the Old Town. During our guided tour you’ll see all the highlights of the stunning architecture of the city: the Polish second largest (after Krakow) Market Square with a beautiful Gothic Town Hall, the University with impressing Baroque Aula Leopoldina Hall and Ostrow Tumski – the oldest part of the city with St. John’s Cathedral.
Dinner and overnight.
DAY 6 RIESE COMPLEX
Breakfast. Departure for Walbrzych to visit Ksiaz Castle - the largest castle in Silesia region and the third-largest in Poland (it consists of 400 rooms!). During the World War 2nd Nazi authorities planned to transform the castle into one of the Hitler’s headquarters, therefor underneath many tunnels and shelters were built. There are two levels of corridors and chambers – one 15 meters underground, the other 53 meters underground. Nowadays the museum offers a special sightseeing route enabling to visit also the upper tunnels.
In the afternoon we continue the tour to one of the 7 founded and 3 opened for visitors complex built by Nazi under the name of “Riese (Giant) Project”. This secret complex was built in 1943-1945. It consists of a system of underground tunnels, passages and large halls of an unknown purpose. The hypothesis say it could be aimed for a secret headquarters of the Third Reich's High Command, underground factory or a research and production centre of the secret weapons. The project was never fully completed. We’ll visit the part called Osowka Underground Town. During the “extreme tour” we’ll visit the underground complex, use a landing boat and footbridges hanging over the water. Dinner and overnight in Wroclaw.
DAY 7 AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU - KRAKOW
Breakfast. In the morning – departure for Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum (UNESCO). Located about 70 km from Krakow, this former Nazi concentration camp is one of the best known places of genocide in the world. About 1,3 million people lost their life there. Nowadays the preserved Memorial consists of two parts Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau. The site is a key place of memory for the whole of humankind for the holocaust, racist policies and barbarism […] and a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity (UNESCO WHL, Statement of Significance). Dinner and Overnight in Krakow.
DAY 8 KRAKOW
Breakfast. Walking tour of the Old Town (UNESCO) – discovering the treasures of the former capital of Poland. As opposed to most of the big cities in Poland, Krakow remained undamaged after the war and we can admire its original architecture. Starting with the Wawel hill with an impressive castle (which used to be the seat of the Polish kings and during was also the residence of the Nazi governor Hans Frank) and the cathedral, you’ll follow the Royal Way to admire the beautiful tenement houses and churches and reach the Market Square – the largest medieval market place in Europe! Here we’ll stop for a while to listen to the bugle call played by a trumpeter from St. Mary’s Church tower, visit the church (with the famous wooden altar) and the Cloth Hall – a perfect place to buy some souvenirs from Krakow.
In the afternoon – the Schindler’s List tour. We start with a walking tour of Kazimierz – the old Jewish quarter. The history of Kazimierz dates back to 1335 when it was founded by King Kazimierz the Great. During over 500 years it was housing the Krakow’s Jews and became a major European centre for the Diaspora. It changed in 1940, when the Nazi ordered massive deportations of Jews from the city. We visit the Remuh Synagogue with an old cemetery and then we cross the Vistula River to reach the Ghetto Heroes’ Square and then the Schindler’s Factory – one of the most interesting museums in Krakow. The Museum is housing an exhibition called Kraków under Nazi Occupation 1939–1945, which is a story about Krakow and its inhabitants, both Polish and Jewish, during World War 2nd. Dinner with klezmer music concert and overnight in Krakow.
DAY 9 KRAKOW
Breakfast. Summarizing workshop and guided visit to the Polish Aviation Musem. The museum is housing a wide collection of aeroplanes (including a Polish hunter PZL P.11c that was fighting in air in September 1939, British hunter Supermarine SPITfire LF Mk XVI E and Soviet bomber Tu-2S), helicopters, plane engines, pre-war planes made in Poland
In the afternoon - guided tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mine (UNESCO). The mine, one of the oldest in the world, is visited every year by over one million of tourists from all over the world. During the tour you’ll admire 20 salt rock chambers (with a magnificent St. King’s chapel), underground saline lakes, numerous salt sculptures and impressive timber constructions. Farewell dinner and overnight.
Airport transfer and departure from Krakow.