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The Jewish District of Krakow: Centuries of Change

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0668
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$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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Tempel Synagogue in Krakow, Poland

Note: This program has a rescheduled date (originally January 20, 2022).

Despite centuries of prejudice, prosecution, and political setbacks, nothing could force out the Jews of Kazimierz—a district of Krakow in Poland established in the 14th century. Over the centuries, they built their lives, gaining religious and other freedoms along the way.  

In the years between the World Wars (1918-1939), many were engaged in scientific, educational, and cultural endeavors, and even began to participate in local politics. But World War II and the Holocaust spelled catastrophe for the inhabitants of Kazimierz, beginning with the gradual deprivation of rights and culminating in deportation and death in the camps. Only 10 percent of Kazimierz’s population survived. Today, it is one of the best-preserved Jewish districts left in Europe

Christopher Skutela, author and tour guide, highlights the district’s history and sites, beginning at Szeroka Street Square, anchored by Krakow’s oldest synagogue. Other sites include Nowy Square, where Jewish merchants once gathered; Podgorze, home to sculptural chairs that commemorate lives lost in WWII; and the enamel factory of Oskar Schindler, the man who saved thousands from the Nazis.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.