Podgórze is one of the most recognizable districts of Krakow, which today is teeming with colorful tourist life. It is also an increasingly modern, mostly post-industrial part of the city, referring to the history of the royal city. In addition to the charming streets and fashionable restaurants and pubs, there are numerous tourist attractions and places of remembrance. One of such places is Apteka pod Orłem, the only pharmacy operating in the then so called Jewish residential district, at Plac Zgody, today Plac Bohaterów Getta.
The tragic history of Krakow’s Podgórze
During World War II, the fate of the district intertwined with the tragic history of the Jewish population inhabiting Krakow in large numbers. In 1941, the Nazi authorities established a ghetto there, the so-called “Jewish residential district”. Around today’s Bohaterów Getta Square, Limanowskiego and Lwowska Streets, in the area where 3,500 people previously lived, approx. 18 thousand Jews from Krakow and neighboring communities were resettled. By rail, they were taken to concentration camps in Kraków-Płaszów and Oświęcim or brutally murdered on the spot.
The only Polish asylum
In the area of the entire ghetto at that time, there was the only pharmacy – Apteka pod Orłem – managed by a Pole, Tadeusz Pankiewicz. Today this place is a symbol of bringing disinterested help, even in the face of great danger. During the war, not only medicines were sold and distributed for free at the Eagle Pharmacy. The krakow ghetto pharmacy was a place of hope, and its employees gave the Jews shelter during the deportation, handed over messages and packages outside and inside the ghetto. It was also here that Jewish intellectuals met, so it acted as a local cultural forum. For his activities for the benefit of Jews, the owner, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, was honored with the title of the Righteous Among the Nations.