In 2014, we spent four days in Poland, visiting the charming city of Poznan and the magnificent capital Warsaw, the historic Jasna Gora monastery, the Auschwitz concentration camp, and romantic Krakow, and later traveled to Gdansk on the Baltic Sea.
Poznań is a town steeped in history, as it was the first capital of Poland and seen by many as the birthplace of the Polish nation. Today it is a diverse and vibrant town, with much to divert the traveler. It has a stunningly rejuvenated central square, thriving night-life, fascinating museums, Renaissance town hall, Poland’s oldest cathedral, and many attractions in the surrounding area.
Warsow is the capital of Poland. It was completely reconstructed after wartime destruction. Its wide avenues contrast with the narrow lanes of the old section.
We visited the Jasna Gora Monastery near Czestochowa that withstood repeated attacks of Swedish forces during the 17th century. Since then its Black Madonna is venerated as the “Queen of Poland” and has become the country’s national symbol.
Auschwitz: The Largest of the Death Camps According to our guide’s explanations, the most notorious of all the Nazi death camps, opened in the spring of 1940. Detainees included anti-Nazi activists, politicians, resistance members and luminaries from the cultural and scientific communities. Not all those arriving at Auschwitz were immediately exterminated. Those deemed fit to work were employed as slave labor in the production of munitions, synthetic rubber and other products considered essential to Germany’s efforts in World War II.
Auschwitz consisted of several divisions. The original camp, known as Auschwitz I, housed between 15,000 and 20,000 political prisoners. The biggest of the Auschwitz facilities could hold some 90,000 prisoners. It also housed a group of bathhouses where countless people were gassed to death, and crematory ovens where bodies were burned. More than 40 smaller facilities, called subcamps, dotted the landscape and served as slave-labor camps.
As 1944 came to a close and the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allied forces seemed certain, the Auschwitz commandants began destroying evidence of the horror that had taken place there. Buildings were torn down, blown up or set on fire, and records were destroyed. In January 1945, as the Soviet army entered Krakow, the Germans ordered that Auschwitz be abandoned. An estimated 60,000 detainees, accompanied by Nazi guards, departed the camp and were forced to march to Polish towns, some 30 miles away. Countless prisoners died during this process.
Huge posters gave statistics. Between 1.1 million to 1.5 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, died at Auschwitz during its years of operation. An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Poles perished at the camp, along with 19,000 to 20,000 others.
In Auschwitz we visited rooms with glass doors showing hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing or pairs of shoes or tons of human hair. Going through these rooms was heart wrenching. We were crying and couldn’t take any pictures. The worst nightmare you could imagine.
Krakow: Poland’s most beautiful city For almost 500 years it was the country’s capital and the residence of Polish Kings. Today it is the cultural center of Poland.
Gdańsk (Danzig in German) is a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland. At the center of its Main Town, reconstructed after WWII, are the colorful facades of Long Market, now home to shops and restaurants. Gdańsk is also a center for the world’s amber trade; boutiques throughout the city sell the ossified resin.
Below: The Golden Gate is the Western area with cafes, amber shops.
Poland is a beautiful country with old towns and modern cities, now opening its doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees.
A romance novel that will lift your mood and make you laugh:
BABY PLANS, Love Plans, book 5
Relax with a sweet and sassy Romance
They meet at the fertility clinic.
Zach is working on an article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby.
And a big mess results.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She’s a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist.
Mona Risk’s name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list, and her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher’s Weekly.
Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home.
If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy her international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and special heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion.