I’m the type of person, who when I get an idea about something. I become fixated on it. I must do it, nothing will stop me. From Climbing the O2, to Abseiling off a building, and hopefully one day I will meet Michael Rooker!
One of the reasons I went to Poland was that I had to see the Liban Quarry, because that’ s where the abandoned set of Schindler’s List still stands, sort of, It’s abandoned and derelict after all. And most of it was stripped, and the rest left to rot.
Steven Spielberg decided to create Płaszów, in an abandoned Quarry in Krakow.
I was going to Poland, to explore the culture, eat Sernik, visit Auschwitz and find an abandoned quarry.
I worry about my sanity sometimes.
My own feelings of Oskar Schindler. A drinker, gambler and womaniser, who ultimately failed in his marriage, business and life. Turned on by his own people for saving the Jews, unable to get Visa’s because he was a Nazi. Yet, took a stand when the human race needed him to.
I admire people like that. The reason why he did it…perhaps his background, his idealism. Or just because he wore the banner didn’t believe in the ideology.
For every Herman Goth, Herman Goering and Joseph Mengele. There is a Schindler, a John Rabe, a Karl Plagge. And so much more.
Ever since I found out about the abandoned film set, I knew I had to see it. I saw Schindler’s List when I was sixteen, in school while doing my GSCE History. The film had an impact on me. Even though I had seen many films and documentaries about the atrocities on all sides about WW2.
My dad being a history enthusiast, and my family didn’t believe in censoring their children from the realities of War. One of the things I noticed at an early age was Nazi’s were usually played by upper-class Brits. It’s true that we can make reading a shopping list sound sinister!
The simple fact I got to my hotel, threw my suitcase to the floor and headed out to find it, shows how single-minded I really am.
Liban Quarry is by the Krakus Mound, which I caught a Tram, walked for ages to find said Krakus Mound, until a lovely woman who works as a tour guide put me out of my misery. The views from beneath the mound were spectacular. I didn’t climb it because I was saving my energy.
Unlike most abandoned places, the Quarry is open for everyone, but it’s now a nature reserve, you have to be careful, and there is no marked trail. I just found it by finding the most worn path, and the most challenging I later found out.
Seriously, two hours in Krakow and I was coming to the realisation, that no one knew where I was going. Where I was, and I had the image of my stricken body becoming lost in the marshland.
Getting to the location was an exercise in stumbling after I slid to the bottom trying to get down a slope. My body now battered, cut and bruised and since it was marshland, my Anglo-Saxon skin was ripe for mosquitoes. I got to the damn place. Jubilation.
It’s weird after seeing a place in black and white for so many years, now seeing it in glorious rusted technicolour, and even though I knew they were fake. Just props. It felt eerie.
There were people around me, in fact, some gardeners were doing some maintenance not far from me, but I felt so much solitude while I was exploring the place. Because this wasn’t just a film set. It was a combination of set, and the remains of a real forced labour camp for two years of the Nazi occupation.
It’s a strange blurring of fiction and reality. Because real people died here, along with the actors recreating deaths for the camera. It’s an unusual type of silence I have only found in real Concentration Camps I have been too. Because real inmates from the real Płaszów were sent there and Spielberg made a film set in its shadow.
Even though I knew the gravestones were fake, it doesn’t lessen their impact.
Climbing through the Quarry, seeing the sets and the remains of the real place, you can just see Steven Spielberg standing there directing the actors who worked on his masterpiece.
After about two hours exploring, getting out was easier than getting in, all I did was go past the car park and followed the sound of traffic until I came to a bridge!
Yes, that simple.
But seeing the set for myself on my first day in Krakow, even with the cuts and bruises I acquired, to stand there at the set of atrocity and magnificence
If you want to go there, remember you enter at your own risk
here are the links which helped me