The story of Oskar Schindler really came to prominence for most of us after seeing Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. Schindler was a German industrialist, opportunist and Nazi Party member who ended up saving the lives of 1200 of his Jewish factory workers.
In 1939, Oskar Schindler took over the enamelware factory known as DEF (Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik) at 4 Lipowa Street, Kraków. Schindler’s Nazi connections and friendship with the infamous SS commandant Amon Göth, helped him protect his Jewish workers from deportation to the concentration camps.
The factory is about a 30-minute walk from Old Town Kraków. The route takes you through the old Jewish quarter, over the river and then past the former wartime Jewish Ghetto.
As well as the Oskar Schindler story the main exhibition housed in the former factory details the history of Kraków and its inhabitants, both Polish and Jewish under the Nazi Occupation from 1939 to 1945.
The exhibition starts just before the start of the second world war and takes you through the German invasion of Poland, the formation of the Jewish Ghetto and the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp and up to the entering to the city of Soviet forces on 18 January 1945.
Oskar Schindler’s original office in the factory’s admin building has survived the Soviet years and has been preserved intact.
The reconstruction of the Plaszów concentration camp with its electrified barbed wire fences. Jews, as well as Polish prisoners were sent to the Plaszów labour camp, they were used as workers for the neighbouring factories.
The exhibition route concludes through a dark uneven corridor into a bright sculptural installation called the “Hall of Choices”. The installation is designed to highlight the ethical dilemmas and attitudes encountered by people during wartime.
We found the exhibition to be extremely informative and well curated. The chronological layout, real life exhibits and reconstructions provide a detailed view of Kraków’s history and the tragedies suffered by both Polish and Jewish, during the war.
The Oskar Schindler’s Factory exhibition open daily and has an entrance fee of 21 PLN. Entrance is free on Mondays during the winter and on the first Monday of the month during the summer.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
ul. Lipowa 4