Day Six - The Final Day

I know that this blog is titled 'A Week in Auschwitz' when the trip was actually six days, but I find it to be a catchier title...!

Horrendously tired after only four hours' sleep, I breakfasted before joining the others on a coach to Krakow. Here, we began to say goodbye to a few of our course mates, as they were catching earlier flights. The rest of us left our belongings on the coach and went to the last part of the course.

Lecture: 'Jews in Poland Before and After the Shoah', 10:00 - 11:30 (actually began at 10:30 and finished at 12:15!)
Our final lecture was given by Edyta Gawron, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Jewish Studies in Jagiellonian University, in which the lecture was held. She gave an overview of the Jewish community before the Holocaust; the differences between Orthodox and Progressive Judaism, the separation of the stricter Jewish community from the rest of Poland and so forth. She talked about the lesser-known pogroms of the Jews in Poland after the war, including probably the most famous incident, the Kielce pogrom of 1946, and the subsequent emigration of many Jewish families to Israel.

Tour of Krakow, 12:00 - 15:00 (began at 12:30)
We met our guide, Monika, at the university and began a tour of the Jewish Quarter. Under the Communist regime, the area was left almost untouched, so many of the buildings look as they would have done when the Jews of Krakow were ghettoised and deported. For this reason, scenes in the film 'Schindler's List' were actually filmed around the Jewish Quarter. We looked at the old synagogues, only a few of which are now used for religious services, as well as a Jewish cemetery and a stone commemorating the estimated 65,000 Jews from Krakow that lost their lives during the Holocaust.
From there, we walked through the more metropolitan streets of the city to the cathedral and castle on Wawel Hill. Monika talked us through the life of Pope John Paul II, near to a statue of him, and took us into the cathedral to show us the tombs of different Polish Kings and Queens. We then went into the courtyard of the castle, once used as a royal residence, used as Nazi Hans Frank's home during the War, and now a permanent Museum. On such a hot day (for a Brit, anyway - the temperature reached about 31 degrees) walking up the hill was quite a challenge!

Next to Krakow Glowny, most of the group alighted the coach, leaving three of us to travel to the airport. I decided to take advantage of the lift due to the weather and having heavy luggage, so arrived at the airport just after 16:00 when my flight wasn't until 21:55! However, a course mate of mine very kindly stayed to keep me company until my check-in desk opened at around 19:00.
As we approached London on the plane some hours later, I could see little pockets of orange light here and there in the darkness. Although my week had been exciting and certainly thought-provoking, it already felt good to be home.
I was greeted by my father, who was filled in on the details he hadn't read in my blog over the last few days! By the time my head hit the pillow at around 1:00am, I was thoroughly worn out, and promptly caught up on the sleep I had been missing into the next afternoon...