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Study Tour Extra: Wawel Cathedral Review

May 16, 2012

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The following is a review I wrote and submitted for my college’s daily travel blog.  I thought I would post it on here if anyone was interested in a slightly more spiffy sounding account:


As a recent graduate of Stockton’s historical studies program, I have been prepared to view the world through a unique lens—one that intertwines factual events and conceptual ideas which can be applied to any historical context.  As my classmates and I toured the streets of Krakow today, I could not help but marvel at the sight of the Wawel Cathedral, steeped in over a thousand years of history.  This [presently] Gothic cathedral is the home to a relic of Pope John Paul II, Poland’s great King Kazimierz, and other notable military heroes.  One of these, Jan III Sobieski, was of personal interest to me as he was a figure in my historical thesis.

Wawel’s particular connection to our study tour lies in the accession of the grounds to the Nazi Party, where the lawyer Hans Frank conducted his business.  While we did not see that section of grounds, students did reflect on the weight of the situation.  Wawel is seated high on a hill overlooking the Vistula River and much of Krakow.  This was advantageous to the Nazi Party because of its difficulty to get to (if well-guarded as we can assume it was).  Like the rest of Krakow, Wawel was left mostly unharmed during the Second World War

One of our course objectives for the study tour is to balance knowledge of the past with strategies to prevent history’s repeat in the future.  I was frustrated while perambulating the cathedral because of the desecration it underwent during the Nazi regime.  Churches are sacred ground and like all religious structures, it too should be respected and left untouched.  Synagogues, churches, and mosques are an important part of history and although they have differences, they share the meaning of faith in something greater.  We must never forget what the Nazis did to Wawel as well as to religious clergy both Christian and Jewish.  For me personally, I left the Krakow walking tour with respect to the tenacity of the people who took pride in their faith and were willing to make sacrifices to try to protect it.

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