Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory | Kraków

With thanks to Stephen Spielberg a lot of people around the world know the name Oskar Schindler and his list of Jewish men, women, and children he personally saved from harm, and worse, death. It was an era when whole nations were ruled and encouraged by the heartless and uncompromising, and considered many others – essentially any one not like them – as not worthy of existing. Such was the spirit of the time when men hated other men to a point that the unthinkably inhumane was possible, and the world that wealthy, privileged, accepted Oskar lived in.

Our visit had a rough start as, due to an extended lunch, we were over ten minutes late for our timed appointment to see the factory Hollywood made famous. After finding out where the museum entrance was and wrangling with the guard about our online-bought tickets, we finally caught up with our assigned tour leader mid-spiel and in the midst of an overcrowded madhouse set-up. We were at least 20 people elbow-to-elbow from the start, jostling for what little space there was, rushing to see what our guide was talking about, and feeling part of a poorly-designed high school production.

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It didn’t dawn on me until much later in the tour that we were already actually in the factory – I’d thought the entire time of our tour guide’s long-winded spiel was a preamble to the main event, which explains my lack of photos. What threw me off was that instead of focusing on Oskar Schindler and the specific events surrounding his life, the tour took a wider look at everything related to the war, before, during, and after, and sad to say in a haphazard way that left a lot of us feeling annoyed and shortchanged. It’s with some irony that in the end the tour felt worthwhile only because it was based on real people and events, though if given the option it’s obvious that I’d rather the other way around. Here’s hoping they somehow come up with a better version of the tour so that others would be lucky enough to learn and appreciate it – it would be a crime to have it otherwise.

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