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Jun 26 2015

Empty Chairs Memorial, Krakow

While I was exploring Krakow with a friend, we came across a square that had a number of chairs in it.  These chairs were permanent fixtures, but we didn’t know what they represented until my friend looked it up in her guide book.  Then, I did some of my own research.  As it turns out, we had stumbled across The Empty Chairs Memorial which symbolises an important part of Krakow’s history.

Empty Chairs Memorial, Krakow

During World War II, the Jews had no choice but to live in a specific place that was identified by the German authorities at the time.  So, in 1941, the Podgorze district of Krakow was closed off and used as a Jewish ghetto.  It must have been a terrible place to live because they lived in fear of their and their families’ lives, they lived in overcrowded conditions with four families to one flat, and those that didn’t starve to death were either murdered or sent to a concentration camp.

The above photograph is of seventy bronze chairs scattered around Plac Bohaterow Getta which used to be Plac Zgody.  The chairs represent loss and absence as the ghetto in Krakow was cleared and all the residents’ possessions were strewn across the streets.

Location

If you are in the Podgorze area visiting the Jewish ghetto or headed for Schindler’s Factory, it is likely that you will walk past or close to the square.  If you do, it’d be worth taking a bit of time to see the memorial.

Have your say 

Have you been to the Podgorze area of Krakow?  If so, did you see this memorial?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

4 comments

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  1. Nancie

    Powerful memorial. What happened to the Jews in Europe should never be forgotten.

  2. Teresa Keane

    That’s so true, Nancie! They are doing a great job here in Poland to make sure we never forget.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

    Teresa.

  3. Jean

    A polish man found out I had been to Poland. I visited Krakow, Auschwitz=Birkenau, the salt mines and the beautiful town all in in October 2008.
    This Polish man wanted an account of my journey so I looked at the CD of scores of photographs taken in all those places including the square with the chairs.
    We stopped to look at the location of Schindlers factory and spent a day down in the saltmines where miners did the most spectacular salt carvings. A pole told me they stayed down in the mine in winter rather than go up to the surface because it was warmer down than up!, We booked our own flight to Poland a train to Krakow and when we went to Auschwitz we found out by asking the locals the best and cheapest way there and back which was by bus and similarly the day we went to the salt mines etc and always booked my own flights and found out the best places to stay in our money bracket and the routes from one location to another. It isn’t rocket science! I have visited south America North America, Africa; most of Europe, Canada and many more. I always book my own transport and accommodation It also helps to learn foreign languages I speak french and spanish which gets me by in a number of countries

  4. Teresa Keane

    Dear Jean,

    It is always great to receive comments from readers, so thank you for your comment. It’s also great to hear that you travel independently and find it relatively easy to do so. I am struggling to understand the point you were trying to make, though.

    Teresa.

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