Our last night in Krakow was spent at the Holocaust center. The SS hotel I mentioned in my last post also houses the center. We discussed holocaust education in Polish schools and the focus on Poles who were lost as opposed to Polish Jews and the political and social reasons for this. We piled into taxis and went downtown to eat on a barge on the river. This sounded better than it was because the boat was enclosed in glass which made it unbearably hot like a greenhouse. Afterwards, G and I walked around with our guide Johanna (Asha) as we bid her goodbye. We returned back to the hotel, where my roommates and I wrote a farewell song to Poland and went to bed.
We left the next morning at 5 am and drove to Gross Rosen. Here, prisoners were forced into slave laborers who had to mine granite by hand. They worked 12 hours shifts and were given 1000 calories a day…..most lasted less than 4 months. Also located at the camp were German factories that used slave labor. The SS had built themselves a casino, pool, and their gardens are still recognize able (flowering crab apples line the edge. This really showed another aspect of the Germans. We tried to get lunch at a grocery store and continued to the Gross Rosen archives where we a work transfer ticket issued by the Germans for one of our survivors and looked at the records which mainly consisted of survivor testimony since the Germans burned all the records. We drove for a few hours and arrived at a small hotel in the mountains. I took an hour nap and showered. Then we went to tour Project Reise, the German underground city. We hiked underground in the slave made caves for two hours. All documents on what this was to be used for have been destroyed and the Soviets had 10,000 troops stationed there after the war. It is hypothesized that the Germans had the A bomb there since the Soviets tested theirs right after the war. There are survivor testimonies that talk about using massive amounts of concrete…..but no one can find the concrete. These massive tunnels are all over in the mountains. There are 12 different ones you can go through……at least 26 known locations……but since the Soviets quarantined the area…..no witnesses can show where the tunnels are. What exactly were the Germans thinking? One of our survivors worked on this project which ran from 43-45. We went to a pizza place in a Hostel for a meal and returned to the hotel. I started watching the World Cup….but after the Germans scored 6 goals right of the bat, I went to bed.

Today we loaded in the bus for a 7 hour drive. We crossed into the Czech Republic and had lunch in Slovakia. The drive took forever, but we finally made it to Budapest.