Week 7 – Poland

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This past weekend I explored Poland, a country I did not expect to visit before I came to Europe. Fortunately, I made the impulse decision to visit on Easter weekend and I could not be any more appreciative. Through years of European history classes, I knew that the country of Poland had gone through serious turmoil but I was not truly able to understand until I visited Warsaw and Krakow. Touring the Warsaw Uprising museum and Museum of the History of Polish Jews, I was stunned to learn the hardships of the country during World War II. From 1939 to 1945, the Polish people had to deal with occupation and oppression from both the German Nazis and the Soviet Union. Nothing could prepare me for the Auschwitz concentration camp tour out of Krakow. As soon as I entered the camp, I could almost feel the heaviness in the air. Spending the day in the camp learning the oppression the Jewish people went through was incredibly humbling. The fact this horrible time in history occurred only seventy years ago is hard to imagine. It was a harsh juxtaposition between the Auschwitz tour and the jovial Easter markets in Krakow, but the difference truly made me feel incredibly lucky to be in the position I am in today.