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   KRAKÓW, also spelled CRACOW or KRAKOW in English, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in POLAND. Situated on the VISTULA River in the Lesser POLAND region, the city dates back to the 7th century.

   KRAKÓW was the official capital of POLAND until 1596 and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life. Cited as one of EUROPE's most beautiful cities, Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
   After the invasion of POLAND by NAZI GERMANY at the start of World War II, the newly defined DISTRIKT KRAKAU (Kraków District) became the capital of GERMANY's General Government.
   The Jewish population of the city was forced into a walled zone known as the KRAKÓW GHETTO, from which they were sent to GERMAN extermination camps such as the nearby AUSCHWITZ never to return, and the Nazi concentration camps like PŁASZÓW.          However, the city was spared from destruction and major bombing (i.s.).


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