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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Tadeusz Pankiewicz's Pharmacy - Apteka Pod Orlem

Dear friends,

If ever you were in Krakow and went to Schindlers Museum or took part of any Jewish trail tour, for sure you have been told about the "Apteka Pod Orlem" (The Pharmacy Under the Eagle) and it's brave owner Tadeusz Pankiewicz. The Apteka (polish for Pharmacy) was established by Jozef Pankiewicz on Zgody Square in 1909. A very short while after the World War 2 started, his son, Tadeusz, took over as manager. In 1941 when Krakow Ghetto was build, the farmacy was enclosed inside the ghetto. He was the only Polish non-Jewish person that choose to stay inside and willingly gave a helping hand to those who needed it most. He could have chosen to get his business relocated, instead he continued to operate and distribute medicine for the residents of the ghetto. 
Tadeusz, along with his associates - Irena Drozdzikowska, Helena Krywaniuk and Aurelia Danek-Czort - decided to provide active aid in different forms to the people inside the ghetto. This is how Apteka Pod Orlem became a place where the residents could meet and exchange information, a place where they could send-receive illegal correspondence and money, a place where many Jewish people left valuable family belongings - like Torah scrolls and family mementos. After the war, Tadeusz Pankiewicz wrote about the time in the ghetto in his memoir book "The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto" (Apteka w getcie krakowskim). In 1983 he was awarded the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations. 
The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow owns The Eagle Pharmacy now, located on Plac Bohaterow Getta (The Square of the Heroes of the Ghetto) #18, Krakow - Podgorze. Getting there is best done by tram, and the square is hard to miss, as you will see a place with many tall chairs. It's an installation that serves as a reminder for the Jewish people perished - each chair symbolises 1000 people. Let that sink in for a bit, before you walk over to the corner where the Pharmacy is located. The opening hours are: Monday from 10 am to 2 pm, free admission; Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on the second Tuesday of the month. Admission price is 8/10 zloty (with discount/without). You can also buy a "Memory trail" ticket that allows you to access Schindlers Museum, Apteka Pod Orlem and the Gestapo Holding Cells at Dom Slaski on Ulica Pomorska. The ticket is valid 7 days.
The purpose begin the exhibition "Tadeusz Pankiewicz's Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto", is to bring back the history of the Holocaust of Krakow Jews during the Second World War and the memory of the brave group lead by Tadeusz. Only fragments of the period furnishings remain, so the furniture and the objects have been reconstructed as closely as possible to the original ones. The visitors can browse through drawers, hiding places, cabinets and so on, searching for documents, photographs and testimonies of witnesses of the horrors of war.
Apteka Pod Orlem - the museum - is split in 2 main parts. As you enter, to your left, there is the ticket office and the educational facilities - the ticket office, the toilet, the education room and the administrative office for the team that handles the museum. As you enter, to your right, there is the exhibition venue - presenting the dispensing room, the prescription room, the duty room, the materials room, the Holocaust room and the laboratory. Throughout these rooms there are multiple film and multimedia presentations. I believe that the pivotal part of the expo is the "duty room" that holds the original desk from Apteka Pod Orlem and the very first edition of Pankiewicz's memoir, with the authors handwritten notes.
After the war, a the communists settled in, in 1951 Pankiewicz's Pharmacy was nationalised and in 1967 it was closed down. The Historical place was turned, sadly, into a bar! That did not change until 1983, when, thanks to Pankiewicz's friends efforts, the Apteka Pod Orlem was granted the status of national memorial. Since 2003, by decision of the municipality of Krakow, The Eagle Pharmacy has been a branch of the Historical Museum of Krakow. Rightly so, and about time, I say! 

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves History