Jewish Heritage Tour of Poland and Germany

Tour of Poland and Germany.

This is a unique, privately guided Jewish heritage and World War II history and folklore tour of Poland and Germany.

We invite you to join us for this tour, which is based on the internationally published book Monsters and Miracles: Horror, Heroes, and the Holocaust by Ira Wesley Kitmacher (2022). Ira was the inspiration for, co-designed, and co-leads this tour. Ira takes a cinematic view of the Holocaust: one-part horror and the other part a hero and superhero story. The forces of good overcome those of evil. There is no way to fully understand the Holocaust and currently rising hatred without understanding these underlying topics. This tour will be finalized and sold when we have 24 participants or by June 24th, 2024. At the moment we ask you to join a waiting list.

Ira Wesley Kitmacher is a historian and published author of books on European (Monsters and Miracles: Horror, Heroes and the Holocaust) and American (Spirits Along the Columbia River, Haunted Graveyard of the Pacific, and two upcoming books to be published fall 2024) history and folklore, as well as a book (Solomon’s Steps) on Biblical approaches to resolving conflict. His books have appeared on Amazon’s best seller lists and are available through most book sellers. Ira has appeared in television news programs, filmed documentaries, magazines, radio programs, podcasts, newspapers, museum events, and conferences. He is a professor, teaching graduate-level courses at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Portland State University in Oregon, as well as undergraduate courses at other colleges.

Ira is an experienced and acclaimed speaker and guide, serving as an onboard historian on cruise ships and conducting tours based on his books. He is a retired senior U.S. government executive, a licensed Attorney, a certified and experienced conflict resolution practitioner, is currently working as a consultant, legal expert witness, a Historic Commission Commissioner, and is a member of The History Writers Association. Ira holds Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Science, and Bachelor of Arts degrees. He is a graduate of Harvard University and other senior executive leadership programs.

Tour Reviews (TripAdvisor), Ira Wesley Kitmacher, U.S. Pacific Northwest, September 2023-February 2024

  • “Great Tour—Absolutely lovely. Ira is very knowledgeable…We will definitely be going on other…tours.”
  • “I learned so much and the guide was very knowledgeable! Can’t wait to go on another!”
  • “Awesome—Absolutely loved the tour! You could tell the tour guide, Ira Wesley Kitmacher, was very passionate…would recommend!
  • “Would go again! And again! We had a blast…Ira was very clearly passionate and extremely knowledgeable…I can’t wait to bring my parents and friends, they’ll love it!”
  • “Excellent Tour from a Passionate Expert…it exceeded by expectations. Ira is extremely knowledgeable…and his enthusiasm for the subject matter makes the tour engaging…Ira is a talented storyteller and makes the history come alive…he provides interesting historical facts…I highly recommend taking this tour…Ira offers a 5-star tour experience that I won’t soon forget. An absolute must-do…”

The horror that was the Holocaust was steeped in European folklore, anti-Semitism, superstitions, beliefs in monsters and the supernatural.

German folklore and monsters reflected their belief in their own militaristic superiority, fear of encroaching outsiders, and the lack of worthiness of “lesser” people. These beliefs fueled their persecution of millions.

Poles and others’ beliefs reflected their history of being the “crossroad” of Europe, through which countless armies traveled, and laid waste to the countryside and people.

The Jews’ folklore and belief in monsters, angels, and other supernatural phenomenon reflected their history of being scapegoated and persecuted for everything from supposedly spreading the plague, to causing financial collapse.

Ira’s father was a Jewish, Polish-born Holocaust survivor, who lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, was imprisoned in five labor and concentration camps, lost his entire family in the war, was housed in a post-war displaced person’s camp in Germany, and survived. The Holocaust was, in and of itself, a horror story of epic and unheard-of proportions.

The Jews, other persecuted people, and citizens whose countries were overrun lived through a nightmare, where their only offense was being a member of a group or living in the path of invaders. 

The Nazis saw themselves as honorable werewolves, members of a pack protecting the blood and soil of the homeland against invading vampires sucking the lifeblood out of the homeland.

The Allies who fought the Nazis saw them as marauding monsters, intent on taking control of the world. Ira’s mother served with the U.S. Navy in World War II.

The Holocaust was also a time of great bravery, belief, and miracles. The Jews, throughout their history, knew and understood the need to protect themselves. This resulted in their search for super weapons such as the Ark of the Covenant, the trumpets of Joshua, and the inanimate clay figure the golem. There have been many books, movies and television programs forecasting and reflecting on the Holocaust and telling of the search for these super weapons.

Further, American Jewish cartoonists created the superheroes Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others to spur the U.S. to confront and go to war with Nazi Germany (many of the above-mentioned horror, hero and superhero stories will be discussed). 

Tour highlights

85th anniversary

Hitler and the 3rd Reich started the most brutal and deadly war the world has ever known on September 1st, 1939.

Fully guided tours

We offer an unforgettable experience of unique content provided at the right place and time.

In Poland we will visit

Warsaw, Lublin, Kielce, Krakow, Wroclaw, and others.

In Germany we will visit

Berlin, the Reich’s capital, and the center of planning for the “Final Solution.” Germany housed many Displaced Persons’ camps after the war.

Poland's main visiting places

Nozyk Synagogue of Warsaw, Polin Museum, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, Lublin Castle, Yeshiva of Chachmei Lublin, Majdanek, Museum Wsie Radomsky, Wawel Castle, Oskar Schindler Museum, Wieliczka, Auschwitz, and others.

Germany's main visiting places

Reichstag, New Synagogue, Liebeskind New Jewish Museum, Sansoussi Palace, Cecilienhof Palace, Wansee Villa, Lieberman Villa, and others.

Trip Itinerary

[Breakfast, Dinner]

Our tour begins with a stroll along the Royal Route in Warsaw’s Old Town, meticulously restored after World War II. Highlights include the statues of General Charles de Gaulle and Nicolaus Copernicus, old churches, Noble Palaces, Warsaw University, and the Presidential Palace. At the peak of our walk, we’ll encounter the Statue of Sigismund Vasa the Third and the Royal Castle. 

Next, we visit the Cathedral Basilica of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, explore the Market Square with the symbol of Warsaw, “Sirenka,” and enjoy a panoramic view of the Vistula River and the new city. Passing through Warsaw Barbican and Nowy Swiat (New World) street, our tour concludes at the memorial of the Warsaw Uprising. 

    • In the evening, we will meet for an introductory conversation about Jewish, Polish, and German history, folklore, and beliefs including monsters, miracles, and other themes.
    • We will talk about Jews’ lives in pre-World War II Warsaw and Poland.
    • Welcome dinner.

Explore Jewish Warsaw’s rich history on this day tour, beginning at Grzybowski Square, a former market with numerous Jewish shops. Proceed to Prozna Street, the sole surviving prewar Jewish Street, and visit the Nozyk Synagogue. Discover the site of Dr. Janusz Korczak’s former orphanage before paying respects at the vast Jewish Cemetery on Okopowa Street. 

Delve into the tragic history of the Warsaw Ghetto, starting at the remnants of the Ghetto wall and proceeding to the “Bridge of Sighs.” Drive to the Umschlagplatz, the old railway station where over 300,000 Jews were sent to Treblinka. Reflect on Holocaust commemoration. 

Walk the Memorial Route of Jewish Martyrdom and Struggle, passing 22 memorial stones honoring resistance fighters, including Mordechai Anielewicz. Conclude the walk at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes by Nathan Rapoport. 

Opposite the monument, find the sophisticated Museum of the History of Polish Jews, “POLIN,” opened in 2014. With an interactive collection spanning a thousand years of Jewish history in Poland, it covers 4000 m² across eight galleries, featuring exhibits and stories curated by over 120 scholars.  

  • In the morning, we will drive to Lublin with a route stop at the Jewish Psychiatric Hospital, Zofiowka, in Otwock Poland. This was a site of persecution of Jews and others and has reportedly supernatural folklore attached to it.
  • Conversation about the Nazis’ invasion of Poland and the Holocaust.
  • Talk about Jewish, Polish, and German history, folklore, and beliefs.

Upon arrival to Lublin, we will visit the Lublin Castle – former residence of the Polish Kings where the famous union between Lithuania and Poland was signed in 1569. Continue to the old city through the Grodska Gate also known as the Jewish Gate. The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” – cultural center and museum of local history and culture. It is also a unique theatre, run by young people. We continue walking in the Old city, full of narrow streets and old houses and their history marked by the little plagues. 

We will visit one of the most iconic Jewish schools – Yeshivat Lublin. 

After that, we continue to the memorial site at the former Majdanek Concentration Camp.  

Dinner at the restaurant.

Drive from Lublin to Krakow with a stop in Kazimierz Dolny to enjoy an untouched Polish town on the bank of Wisla River.

  • Continue to Radom to visit the Muzeum Wsi Radomskiej, a living history museum of a Polish village of the late 1800s and early 1900s (to bring to life the conversation about Polish/Jewish life before World War II.
  • Talk about Jewish, Polish, and German history, folklore, and beliefs.
  • Discuss the views of the Allies, and their sending to war superheroes such as Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others. 
  • Conversation about books and movies on the Holocaust.

Visit Kielce, a town in central Poland with a Jewish history and fate shared with other pre-WW II communities. Kielce is known for a post-war antisemitic outbreak culminating in a pogrom in 1946, because of this many Jews fled Poland. We will visit the memorial at the Jewish Cemetery to pay tribute to the victims.

Late afternoon arrival to Krakow.

Tour in Krakow will begin from the statue commemorating the Battle of Grunwald and continue through Barbacan and the St. Florian gate to Florianska street – this is the way used by Polish Kings to cross the city on special events. Shortly thereafter, we will approach “Rynek Glowny” – the Central Market with a beautiful St. Mary Basilica and Sukenicy – trading rows.

  • Visit the Rynek Underground Museum in Krakow, as it is connected to local folklore about monsters (in this case, “vampire” skeletons were unearthed here and are on display).
  • Conversation about Jewish, Polish, and German history, folklore, and beliefs, especially monsters and other supernatural overtones.

Next, we will turn to one of the narrow side streets to see one of the oldest universities in Europe; among its famous students were M. Kopernicus and K. Wotyla.  Visit the Residence of the Kings of Poland – the renaissance Royal Castle at Wawel Hill.  

Visit the Residence of the Kings of Poland – the renaissance Royal Castle at Wawel Hill.   

Visit Kazimierz – a former Jewish district, starting from Sheroka Street and square, the famous Rema Synagogue, and the old Jewish cemetery containing graves from 1500. Continue to the Ghetto Heroes Square and to the museum of Oscar Schindler, who saved almost 1,100 Jews by putting them to work in his factory. 

Dinner with a folk music performance.

We will have a guided tour into the depths of the Weiliczka Salt mine, in which Jews worked as slave laborers, and will explore the world of this essential mineral. Will see the underground chapel, the lake, the statues of famous Poles, the souvenir shop, and many other things. All of this is carved from salt.

After several days of quite intense traveling, we suggest an easier day and a free afternoon in Krakow, which will help clear the mind before the following days’ emotional experiences.

Visit Auschwitz Concentration Camp Museum. Walk through the barracks towards the crematorium. Continue to the Birkenau extermination camp to honor more than a million Jews and others killed there. 

Drive to Wroclaw – before the war this town was known as Breslau in Germany. It has a very long history and a beautiful Medieval Old Town. Morning tour of Wroclaw’s charming Medieval Old Town which showcases Renaissance and Baroque tenement houses. 

Tour of Wroclaw, starting in the lively Market Square with its vibrant colors and Gothic architecture. Explore the Old Town Hall, Wroclaw Cathedral, and the historic Wroclaw University. Transition into the city’s Jewish heritage by visiting the beautifully restored White Stork Synagogue and the poignant Jewish Cemetery, delving into the rich history of Wroclaw’s Jewish community.

Pay respects at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes and explore the Jewish Culture Museum to deepen your understanding of the city’s diverse historical and cultural tapestry. Conclude your tour at the UNESCO-listed Centennial Hall, rounding off a day filled with architectural marvels, poignant memorials, and a profound exploration of Wroclaw’s Jewish legacy.  

  • Afternoon drive to Berlin.
  • Conversation about Jewish, Polish, and German history, folklore, and beliefs.
  • Discussion of German propaganda and folklore used as weapons against Jews and other persecuted people.

A compelling tour of Berlin, delving into its Jewish heritage and World War II history. Begin at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, symbolizing both division and reunification.

Explore the poignant Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a vast field of concrete slabs that serves as a somber reminder of the Holocaust.

Visit the nearby Reichstag building, witness to Germany’s tumultuous history, and then proceed to the Topography of Terror Documentation Center to understand the Nazi regime’s atrocities.

Journey to the Jewish Museum, an architectural masterpiece, to explore the diverse history of Jewish life in Germany. Continue to the Hackesche Höfe, an area with a thriving Jewish community before World War II, and visit the New Synagogue, a symbol of resilience.

Conclude your tour at Grunewald Station, the site from which many Jews were deported during the war, for a reflective moment on the city’s complex past. This comprehensive tour offers a profound understanding of Berlin’s Jewish heritage and its connection to the events of World War II. 

  • Reflect on the end of World War II, the Allies’ victory, and the outcome of the Holocaust.

A thought-provoking tour to Potsdam and Wannsee, exploring the historical and cultural significance of these sites. Begin your journey in Potsdam, home to the stunning Sanssouci Palace and Gardens. Roam through the opulent halls of Sanssouci Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and stroll in the meticulously landscaped gardens, soaking in the beauty of this former summer residence of Frederick the Great. Visit Cecilienhof Palace, where the Potsdam Conference took place in 1945, shaping the post-World War II world. 

Transition to Wannsee, where you will encounter the Wannsee Villa, infamous for hosting the Wannsee Conference in 1942. Gain insights into the sinister plans devised by the Nazis for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” The Wannsee Conference played a pivotal role in the Holocaust, making this villa a solemn historical site. 

  • Explore these two contrasting yet interconnected locations, opulence and somber, offering a unique perspective on Germany’s past.
  • Conversation about life in post-World War II “displaced persons” camps.

Closing conversation as we reflect on the gravity of Jewish, Polish, and German history and folklore.

Farewell dinner.

There is no program for this day. Individual departures.

Tour Dates & Pricing

11 days /10 overnights 25.08.2024 - 04.09.2024 29.04.2025 - 09.05.2025

€3600/person
  • Ira Wesley Kitmacher as the tour inspirer and scholar
  • Accommodation in 4* star hotels
  • 10 Breakfasts and 4 Dinners
  • First class tavel coach
  • Local guides for the whole tour
  • Entrance fees to 27 museums and visiting places
  • Entrances to 3 free of charge visiting places
  • Travel insurance

PAYMENT DETAILS: The cost of the tour is €3600 per person in a shared room (DBL or TWIN). Accommodation at the single room is for a supplement rate of €650.

This excludes airfare to, and from Europe.

A refundable deposit of 10% is required when booking the tour.

This tour will be finalized and sold when we have 24 participants or by June 24th, 2024. At the moment we ask you to join a waiting list.

Full payment is due no later than July 24th,  2024, the payment links will be sent accordingly.

CANCELLATION FEES & POLICY:

A minimum number of 12 participants is required to operate tour dates. If a minimum number has not been reached before July 1st and the tour is canceled, you will receive a FULL deposit refund.

If a client cancels at any time outside the referenced date, a €150 administrative fee per person will be charged.

Within 60-30 days before departure date: Cancellation fee is the size of the deposit – 10%.

Within 30 days before departure date: Cancellation fee 100% of Invoice: No Refund.

Tour with IRA
Tour with IRA
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