Friday, 13 October 2017

Rembering the Victims of Nazi Fascism and Stalinist Communism in Krakow


Dom Śląski, or ‘Silesian House

Dom Śląski, or ‘Silesian House,’ is almost never on the agenda of visitors to Krakow. This is very unfortunate since it is a very chilling relic of Nazi and Soviet occupation that presents evidence of the repression, murder and torture ordinary Cracowians had to endure.

It was originally built as a hostel to house students from Silesia (hence the name). However, during World War 2 this notorious building became the Kraków headquarters of the Gestapo. The first and second floors of the building were used to interrogate ordinary civilians and inmates from the Montelupich prison, which still stands to this day in Podgorze.
Visitors to Dom Śląski today can now visit a branch of the Historical Museum of Krakow named "People of Krakow in Times of Terror 1939-1945-1956" housed within the building. This exhibition is a powerful journey through Nazi occupation and the fate of victims of German terror from 1939-1945. Evidence of atrocities are on display including anti Semitic posters, a wallet made from human skin, photographic and film evidence of ordinary, innocent civilians being rounded up on the streets of the city by the cruel, Nazi invaders.

Remembering the victims of Nazi fascism at Dom Śląski 

The exhibition then moves on to demonstrate that the end of the War did not signal the end of the repression, but simply the swapping of one occupier for another - the communists. The exhibition demonstrates the similarities between these two regimes and importantly, it also makes available a database of photos and documents providing evidence which bear witness to victims of Stalinist oppression.

The cellars of Dom Śląski were turned in WW2 into detention cells for the interrogation, torture and beating of prisoners by the Nazis. These cells still exist in their original form and at least some 600 inscriptions made by the unfortunate detainees awaiting their fate at the hands of the Gestapo remain scratched onto the walls. Desperate pleas to God or tally marks counting out how many days of incarceration prisoners suffered are clearly visible and make for a ghoulish reminder of Nazi brutality in truly claustrophobic surroundings.
Inscriptions scratched into the walls of the torture cells
Dom Śląski is only a 15 minute walk from the main market square in the Old Town. It is located on:- 2 Pomorska Street.

To visit the interrogation cells, enter the courtyard of the building and turn right. There are a set of stairs leading down to the cellars and normally there is an attendant present who will show you the way. There is no charge for visiting the cells.

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