We present temporary exhibition A Battle That Never Happened. On the 80th Anniversary of the Outbreak of World War II to once again fulfil the promise given to our visitors, especially to active participants of our exhibitions, regarding the extension of threads connected with the history of Kraków, indicated at permanent exhibition Krakow under Nazi Occupation in 1939−1945 at Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, a branch of the Museum of Kraków.
Exhibition A Battle That Never Happened… concerns the fundamental event, still important for us, Kraków residents, the Poles, Europeans and inhabitants of other continents, even after 80 years. It refers to 1st September 1939, a date particularly memorable among other important dates. In other words, the first day of World War II which broke out as a result of an unprovoked German attack on Poland who trusted Great Britain and France, its powerful allies.
The mission of the Museum of Kraków is to describe, document, tell about the history of our city, also in the time decisive for the world. “Kraków deservedly attracts the attention of everyone, from a fighting soldier to a Commander-in-Chief”, these are words by Antoni Szylling, the Brigadier-General, the Commander-in-Chief of “Kraków” Army during the September days. At present Kraków and its Museum grab the attention of millions of tourists from Poland and abroad. The interest is also keen in the context of the last days of peace and first days of war in Kraków.
The exhibition focuses on answers to a few questions frequently asked by visitors. What was the atmosphere in the city on the last days of peace? What was happening then? How did the war in Kraków start? Was there any damage in Kraków? Why was Kraków, the former Austrian stronghold from the time of World War I, left undefended in September 1939? How did that happen? Who and where adopted the key decisions? Who saved Kraków?
Thinking about the past, trying to understand it, we often refer to it precisely using common associations embedded in collective memory. Kraków avoided major damage and losses in time of two horrible world wars of the bygone century, which was the result of the military situation created in fronts, which was favourable for Kraków. Although the city was fought for, and it constituted an important target for the attackers and the defenders, there was a credible threat of destroying its beautiful monuments admired by tourists until present. Nowadays, in our civilisation there is a widespread view that the unique heritage of the past should be protected and handed over to the next generations. However, the sides fighting in world wars did not hesitate to destroy historical cities even when such actions were not necessary from the military point of view. In all probability, in less favourable circumstances Kraków would not have been an exception.
We often hear that nothing special or worth remembering happened in Kraków on the first days of September 1939. Is that true? We kindly invite you to an exhibition which will provide answers to such questions and doubts.