Poland Personally 2024: A Study Seminar to Poland

June 30- July 8, 2024

Comparing Poland yesterday and today based on daily themes such as a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland, dilemmas surrounding life and death and bearing witness, and personal reflection and soul searching are just a few of the ways teachers will focus on the history of the Holocaust.


Comparing Poland yesterday and today based on daily themes such as a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland; dilemmas surrounding life and death and bearing witness; and personal reflection and soul searching are just a few of the ways teachers will focus on the history of the Holocaust. Accompanied by a Holocaust survivor, teachers will view Poland, its people, its government, and socioeconomics in unique ways that will increase their understanding of the value of diversity and the results of prejudice. This experience is powerful and life-changing. It offers a distinctive view of the history of Poland, its current position in global relationships, and how genocide remains a reality today in developing nations. In advance of travel, teachers will engage in 5 pre-departure workshops that will focus on relevant topics designed to give them baseline knowledge and information to create context for the seminar. As a follow-up to the seminar, teachers will meet for 2 workshops to share the instructional materials they designed for their students and further reflect on their experience. Teachers are eligible to receive 3 Act 48 Credits or 90 Act 48 hours of continuing professional education through Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3 for a minimal fee. Teachers will also receive a Resource Book especially compiled for the seminar that includes timelines, maps, historical documents, statistics, and thematic articles relevant to each day's activities. It also includes site-specific articles that offer additional information that teachers can draw from as they develop unit and lesson plans for their students. Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland immerses teachers in Poland and its culture and thus Poland becomes an interactive textbook supported by the knowledge and skills of a highly qualified scholar and personal travel guide. Although the seminar answers many questions that students of history pose, numerous other questions are raised by virtue of the mini-lectures and follow-up discussions.

Some of the questions raised by this seminar are:

  1. Why were the Germans the main perpetrators and why were the Jews the main victims?
  2. How did anti-Semitism, prejudice, and racism enable the Nazis to implement the Final Solution?
  3. What kind of leadership evolved among the perpetrators and the victims and what were some of the dilemmas they faced?
  4. How did the relationship between Jews and Poles before, during, and after the War impact their mutual perceptions and roles in the Holocaust?
  5. How diversified was Jewish culture in Europe on the eve of World War II? How did this manifest itself religiously and politically in Poland?
  6. What lessons does the Holocaust teach us for the future, and how can we implement them?

The primary purposes of this seminar are to:

  1. Examine and discuss how and why the most civilized nation in Europe attempted to eliminate the Jewish people.
  2. Understand the dynamics of how a totalitarian regime operates.
  3. Define the moral and ethical dilemmas facing both the victims and the bystanders in the Holocaust and identify the lessons learned.
  4. Study the pre-World War II interrelationships between diverse European cultures, utilizing the Jewish model as a critical empirical case.
  5. Compare and contrast the dilemmas of diversity in modern Europe with what is happening in the United States today.
  6. Examine the characteristics of Polish and Jewish culture, their cross-fertilization, and interaction from the beginning of the modern era until today.
  7. Enable educators to create classroom programs, activities, units, and lesson plans that will reflect the knowledge and experience they have acquired so that their students will be more informed about the causes and outcomes of the Holocaust.
For more information, please email [email protected]


Sunday, June 30Welcome to Poland!
Transfer from Warsaw Chopin Airport to the hotel. Check-in at the Novotel Warszawa Centrum Hotel. The drive to the hotel from the airport will be approximately 30 to 40 minutes. 
Monday, July 1Jewish Life in Warsaw
We will begin with a city tour orientation by bus. The city tour will then take us to the Gesia Cemetery. There, you will learn the history of Jewish life in Poland and Warsaw, the capital. Since there is physically a tiny portion left of Jewish Warsaw, this cemetery opens a window into the rich culture of Jewish Warsaw, making it the second most significant Jewish community in the world at the beginning of the Twentieth Century (after NY). After the cemetery, we will spend time at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute. During our visit, we will begin discussing the creation and dynamics of historical memory and commemoration through the lens of Dr. Emmanuel Ringelblum's legacy. After a short lunch on your own, we will continue to the Warsaw Zoological Garden or Warsaw Zoo. Our day tour will end at the Nożyk Synagogue, where we will meet the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Schudrich. He will present an overview of the present-day challenges facing Polish Jewry.
In the evening, you will be our guest for our opening dinner at the hotel. 
Tuesday, July 2The Largest Ghetto in Nazi-Occupied Europe - 1940-1943. - Dilemmas of Jewish Life, Death, and Resistance in the Ghetto
In the morning, we will tour through the few physical remains of the Ghetto, including sections of the original wall and the orphanage of Janusz Korczak. We will visit the memorial of the Umschlagplatz, from where the Nazis transported the Jews to Treblinka. We will also learn about the bunker where the command of the Warsaw ghetto uprising hid and where they committed suicide. In the early afternoon, we will travel to Treblinka to learn about implementing the Final Solution in the context of Operation Reinhard. The Poland cohort will participate in a memorial service with our Survivor, Howard Chandler, at the remains of the extermination camp.
CWB will provide a boxed lunch; however, dinner will be on your own in Warsaw. 
Wednesday, July 3:  The Nazi System of Extermination and Concentration Camps in Europe
Leaving Warsaw in the morning, we will drive to Lublin. Our first stop will be visiting the Grodzka Gate NN Theater. This unique student project grapples with the demise of Lublin's Jewish community and the public perception of what transpired during WWII. 
Just at the city outskirts, we will tour the Majdanek concentration camp. In the summer of 1944, Soviet troops managed to over-run and conquer this area before the Nazis had the time to cover up the evidence. Therefore, Majdanek is the only camp in Poland that remains with its original extermination apparatus intact. It was here that many Polish Jews and non-Jewish Poles were murdered or enslaved.
CWB will provide lunch and dinner. 
Thursday, July 4:  Bearing Witness and Grappling with the Question of Justice
On Thursday, we will begin with a visit with dignitaries and the mayor of Wierzbnik-Starachowice in honor of Howard Chandler's (our accompanying Survivor) hometown. Following this event, we will walk with Howard through his hometown as he shares with us stories from his childhood and testifies about the atrocities he witnessed there. We will also visit the Jewish cemetery in Starachowice.
CWB will provide lunch; dinner will be on your own in Krakow. 
Friday, July 5:  Auschwitz - the Decline of Humanity
Our day will begin with a visit to Auschwitz I, now a State Museum. As part of our tour, we will visit the new Austrian exhibit in Block 17, which unpacks, among other issues, the role of the Austrian perpetrators of the Holocaust.
From there, we will continue to Auschwitz Birkenau (Auschwitz II), where 1.2 human beings were systematically murdered by the Nazis from 1942 to 1945. Our Survivor, Howard Chandler, was sent to Birkenau, and he will tell his story.
Upon completing our tour of Auschwitz, we will return to Krakow in the late afternoon and convene a reflection gathering.
CWB will provide lunch, and the cohort will enjoy a special Shabbat dinner at the hotel. 
Saturday, July 6Jewish Life in Krakow before the Holocaust
Krakow was Poland's capital and the Polish monarchy's seat for centuries. Jewish life there spans many hundreds of years. In the morning, we will continue our learning with a walking tour. We will learn about the Jewish quarter and some of its synagogues to understand the diversity and importance of the former Jewish community here. We will visit some of the remains of the Ghetto, including an Under Eagle pharmacy owned during the occupation by a Righteous Gentile.
CWB will host lunch at a special restaurant; dinner will be on your own.
Sunday, July 7:  Wieliczka Salt Mines
We will begin the day at the Wieliczka salt mines, which have been in active use for 600 years and contain breathtaking salt sculptures deep under the ground. Afterward, we will depart for Krakow, with a stop in Kielce. As we approach Warsaw, we will stop for a festive closing dinner. 
Lunch will be on your own in Kielce, and CWB will host our final dinner. 
Monday, July 8Departure from Poland


See our seminar Videos below!


2022 Poland Seminar Video
2019 Poland Seminar Video
2018 Poland Seminar Video
2017 Poland Seminar Video
2016 Poland Seminar Video
Tribute to Seth's Grandmother, Margie Appel, at Auschwitz-Birkenau
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland / 2011
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland / Educators 2012
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland / Students 2012  

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