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The World War II Trail


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Introduction

Did you know that the first shots on 1 September 1939 rang out in Poland? Did you know that the Warsaw Uprising and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are two different aspects of history? Did you know that throughout the Nazi occupation, the Polish State continued to work underground, along with the government, the judicial system, police and Europe’s largest underground army?

Day 1: Gdańsk

Arrival in Gdańsk. Your journey will begin at the place where the World War II began – Westerplatte. At 4.45, on 1 September 1939 the battleship "Schleswig-Holstein" commenced its bombardment of Westerplatte. In the city of Gdańsk you will see the Monument to the Defenders of the Polish Post Office. The Defence of the Polish Post Office in Gdańsk is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic acts in the defence of Polish Pomerania. You will then visit Sopot where you will have an opportunity to walk along Europe’s longest pier. Gdynia’s harbour is home to many famous ships including: the destroyer "Błyskawica" - a precious national relic and the only remaining ship that was built before World War II,  and also the Dar Pomorza sailing frigate.

Overnight stay in Gdańsk.

Day 2: Gdańsk – Malbork – Warszawa (345 km)

After breakfast you will travel to Warszawa and on the way visit Malbork and the mighty castle of the Teutonic Knights, a masterpiece of defensive and residential architecture from the late medieval period. During the War the flag of the Third Reich flew from its tower and the castle hosted many ceremonies attended by Nazi Party functionaries.

Overnight stay in Warszawa.

Day 3: Warszawa

In the morning we will take you on a tour of Warszawa. If you look at the city today, it is difficult to believe that it was virtually razed to the ground during the World War II. Once known as the “Paris of the North” and blessed with fine examples of 18th century architecture, it was bombed and dynamited out of existence. The colourful town houses, the surrounding defensive walls, church towers and the mass of the Royal Castle – all arethe reconstructions. You will then visit the Warszawa Uprising Museum, which presents the events of 1944 in a modern way.

Overnight stay in Warszawa.

Day 4: Warszawa – Wrocław (345 km)

In the morning you will travel to Wrocław, where units of the Wehrmacht concentrated on the day before Germany’s attack on Poland in 1939. And it was from that city that they headed east. You can also admire the city’s fully restored medieval district.

Overnight stay in Wrocław.

Day 5: Wrocław – Jugowice – Kraków (271 km)

After breakfast you will go to the village of Jugowice where German military drifts of the underground World War II Riese military complex are open to the public. The shafts contain preciously guarded top secret facilities from that period. There are three entrances to the core underground section from the north-eastern side and one from the northern side.

Overnight stay in Kraków.

Day 6: Kraków

A tour of Kraków begins with a walk along the Royal Way to Wawel Castle. En route you will step into the Collegium Novum of the Jagiellonian University, where in 1939 its entire professoriate were arrested and transported to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. You will also see Kazimierz, a Jewish town where a ghetto was established during the World War II and  thousands of Jews were murdered there. You will also attend a talk given by a witness of those events. In the afternoon you will travel to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp Museum.

Overnight stay in Kraków.

Day 7: Kraków – Wieliczka (13 km)

Today you will visit the aviation museum, whose exhibits include a number of aircraft from the First and Second World Wars and are the only surviving examples of their type in the world today. Besides aircraft the Museum also boasts helicopters, gliders and many mementoes, uniforms and decorations. In the afternoon you will set off for Wieliczka where you will find the oldest continuously operating company in the world today. Salt has been mined here since the 13th century. In 1944, one of the chambers was turned into a German armaments factory where Poles of Jewish descent were used as slave labour.

Overnight stay in Kraków. 

Day 8: Kraków

Departure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* aviation picnic

The Małopolska Aviation Picnic takes place every year in June at the Polish Aviation Museum, with more than 60,000 people taking part! Visitors have a chance to see more than 90 aircraft from Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Turkey. There are also aircraft displays involving all kinds of acrobatics and there are earthbound attractions, too. Moreover, World War II history buffs will be able to observe re-enactments of battles from the frontline.