“Proto-German” city of Krakau
Kraków remained under German occupation for 1961 days — 5 years, from 6 September 1939 to 18 January 1945. Traces of the German past of the city can still be found in its space: air-raid shelters under today’s Inwalidów Square, signs on townhouses and the townhouses themselves, as well as museum exhibits. Having entered Kraków on 6 September 1939, the Germans immediately began to implement their policy into practice. According to the plan, Kraków was to become a German city, the capital of the General Government, Franconia. The destruction of national monuments and state symbols was an element of the wide-ranging campaign aimed at a total Germanisation of the city space; it was also designed to show its residents who really had the power. Officially, a change of the city name into the German “Krakau“ took place no sooner than December 1941; however, this name had already been used in documents. The change was the crowning of their master plan, a symbolical seal of the transformation of Kraków into a “proto-German“ city.
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