Chopin Museum: Marketing Analytics and Public History

The most technologically advanced museum I visited in Warsaw was the Chopin Museum. While I’ve recently written about how fantastic interactive and immersive museums are, the Chopin Museum takes this to the next level.

The ticket you receive, instead of a typical paper stub, is a digital card similar to that of a hotel room key. Upon entry, you active your card by tapping it against a digital card reader. Once activated, your ticket grants you access to additional features of the museum.

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The Chopin Museum is arranged chronologically, with each room featuring music and information relating to only a certain time frame of Frédéric Chopin’s life. The way a visitor is able to interact with this information differs depending on the room however.

For the room focused on Chopin’s childhood there are listening pods where you can sit, scan your ticket, and listen to Chopin’s earlier works. For Chopin’s adult life you can scan your card and flip pages in a book that are computer generated. When learning about the women in his life there is a touch screen computer activated by your card that plays a short video. All of this is presented in your native language, which is selected upon entry.

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While each room proposes a different way to interact with Chopin’s music and life, one aspect remains the same: your keycard is necessary to active the exhibit.

The ingenuity blows me away, almost more than the museum itself did. The data collection from the card system must be so helpful to the administration, and it has the potential to revolutionize the public history industry.

In your average museum data collected is simplistic, focused mostly on how many people buy tickets. If a new exhibit comes in and ticket sales go up, it can be concluded that the exhibit was the contributing factor. But how long were people interacting with the exhibit? Did people enter just for the featured exhibit, or did they then explore the rest of the museum? How much did people like the exhibit, or the museum in its entirety?

While some of these questions could potentially be answered through surveying patrons, it is almost impossible to get information on every visitor’s experience.

The Chopin Museum is an example of how that is changing.

When you enter the Chopin Museum and activate your card, you are instantly assisting the museum with its data collection. To access exhibits and information your card needs to be scanned, which helps the museum see which exhibits are performing better than others. Some of the exhibits require extra involvement, such as touching a screen or flipping a page, which gives the museum a guess as to how long each exhibit is being interacted with. And at the end of your visit you tap your card out and return it, giving the museum an exact time of your visit.

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This absolutely fascinates me thanks to its similarity to marketing analytics. Marketing analytics is “the processes and technologies that enable marketers to evaluate the success of their marketing initiatives by measuring performing using important business metrics, such as ROI, marketing attribution and overall marketing effectiveness. In other words, it tells you how your marketing programs are really performing.”

While the Chopin Museum is most likely using the information for more than just its marketing efforts, the concept is still the same: finding ways to get more data to make more informed decisions. If very few people watch the videos on Chopin, but many listen to his music, it makes sense that future exhibits would be audio-based rather than visual-based.

Analytics gives you the opportunity to see what has and has not been performing well, and to make decisions based on these findings. You learn so much through data: who your audience is, what forms of media they prefer, and what type of content they enjoy.

This kind of information is invaluable. As a business, having a greater understanding of your audience can help you create content that resonates better with the people you are most trying to connect with. By then providing value to prospects you are showing them that you understand their needs, and that you are a good company to invest time and money into.

Marketing analytics, and data collection as a whole, is so interesting. Using information to improve a customer’s experience is a fantastic opportunity, one I’m excited to see museums adopt. While the Chopin Museum isn’t the first of its kind (the National World War II Museum in New Orleans has a similar approach) it highlights the future of museums and public history as a whole, a future I’m excited to see develop.

The post ‘Chopin Museum: Marketing Analytics and Public History‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum and the Case for Immersive History

One museum I toured while in Warsaw was the Warsaw Uprising Museum, commemorating the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The uprising was an attempt by the Polish resistance in World War II to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. Ultimately the uprising was unsuccessful, but it showed the dedication of a people unwilling to sit back and have freedoms stripped from them.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum, which opened in 2004, is an example of a fantastically designed museum. When entering the room you are not looking at a typical museum showing pictures and featuring exhibits with just information about the Warsaw Uprising. You are instead walking into a room that makes you feel as though you’re stepping into history itself. The Warsaw Uprising Museum’s first room is designed as a street in 1940s Warsaw, complete with a cobblestone floor, walls littered with anti-Nazi graffiti, and a soundtrack featuring a heartbeat that occasionally switches to planes dropping bombs overhead.

The museum went above and beyond, completely immersing you in the museum with little details: a wall littered with bullet holes where whispers of people presumedly hiding can be heard, drawers you can pull out to read about the lives of individual soldiers in the uprising, a short 3D movie recreating what Warsaw would have looked like after its destruction, and a small replica of the sewage system tunnels resistance fighters maneuvered through you are able to crawl through.

Creating an interactive museum is one of the best ways to get people interested in history. I firmly believe that the more immersed someone is in history, the more he or she begins to care about it. That’s why museums like the Warsaw Uprising Museum are fantastic. By creating an atmosphere where someone feels as though he or she is part of history, he or she can better relate to it. While learning about the Warsaw Uprising might be interesting for some people, for others facts alone aren’t enough to spark an interest. But by introducing multimedia and interactive exhibits, everything changes. Instead of being a passive listener, you become an active participant.

Museums like the Warsaw Uprising Museum, as well as ones like the POLIN History of the Polish JewsSchindler’s Factor, and the National World War II Museum get me excited about history, and about the prospects of others loving history. They help me identify what is fantastic about history: bringing a story to life. What I love about history is the fact that there are so many amazing stories of people, places, and events that we are able to learn more about for the sole purpose of enriching our own lives by learning from the past. Being able to visit a museum that helps these stories become visualized is incredible. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it makes me excited about the future of museums and public history as a whole.

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The post ‘The Warsaw Uprising Museum and the Case for Immersive History‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

9 Things Learned at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews was one of the better museums I saw while visiting Poland. The museum, which opened in 2013, features over 1,000 years of Jewish history within Poland. While touring the museum I had a tour guide, which I would not recommend. It resulted in my time in the museum feeling rushed, and didn’t leave as much time to explore each room. The museum offers an audio guide however, which I bet would be a fantastic supplement to the museum. I felt as though touring the museum taught me much about Polish Jews, the most interesting of which are featured below.

Museum Organization

The design of the museum is interesting. There are eight different sections, each focusing on a different part of history. The exhibits are: Forest (an introduction to the entire exhibit), First Encounters (the Middle Ages), Paradisus Iudaeorum (15th and 16th century), The Jewish Tour (17th and 18th century), Encounters with Modernity (19th century), On the Jewish Street (Second Polish Republic), Holocaust, and Postwar years. Each of the different sections has a unique feel to it which made the museum fantastic.

The museum is also intensely interactive, which I enjoyed. In each rom there are many ways to involve yourself, from touch screens detailing more specialized information, to mini-movie theaters playing period films. I firmly believe that the more interactive a museum is the easier it is to keep engaged with history, so the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews was definitely a favorite of mine.

The only change I would have made organizationally would be to add more overview descriptions for each room. There were plaques all over which were fantastic, as they highlighted documents and personal stories of Polish Jews, but having an introductory overview of each room would have made it easier to then understand how the documents, maps, and stories tied into a bigger theme.

Christian Attitudes Towards Jews

One of the many things my dialogue to Poland has taught me is that racism towards Jewish members of society still lingers today. I had never stopped to consider why this was the case though, or where it originated from.

According to the museum, the Christian dislike for Jews was shaped by two principles. The first, that they are to live in ‘perpetual servitude’ because they rejected Jesus Christ, and the second, they have to continue to exist because they were present for the life of Jesus, but only as humiliated infidels.

The intense racism continues to astonish me, but I was happy the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews chose to include the origins of the hatred, as well as to continue to acknowledge the unfortunate reality of racism in Polish history throughout the museum.

Rise of Jews in Poland

One of the most interesting aspects of the museum to me was the rise of the Jews in Poland. On my dialogue we focus mostly on the World War II era, with some focus on the years closely before and after. While I enjoy the specialized course of study, because the topic can be fleshed out, it results in a lack of understanding about the origins of Jewish history in Poland.

In this museum two of the sections, ‘First Encounters’ and ‘Paradisus Iudaeorum,’ focused on the earlier history of Jews in Poland I was unaware of. Here I learned that Jewish citizens moved to Poland in the 13th century when they wanted a better life, as Poland had much to offer. In the 14th century there were fourteen Jewish communities in Poland, but in the early 1500s Jews were living in approximately one hundred towns.

The story I found most interesting in this section was the one focused on Saul Wahl, the man who was king for a day in 1586. He became king thanks to a law that stated if electors could not agree on who was to be king, one would be selected temporarily until a decision was made. In his time as king, Wahl passed a series of laws that significantly improved Jewish life, as well as leasing the salt mine Wieliczka, which my group toured just a few days before.

Zodiac Importance

Another interesting fact I learned at the museum was the importance of the Zodiac in Jewish culture. The most I knew about the Zodiac prior to the museum was that I’m an Aquarius and while in Prague we saw a cool astrological clock. What I didn’t know was that the Zodiac signs (also known as mazalot) have appeared in illuminated manuscripts and in synagogues since antiquity, as it is linked to the 12 tribes of Israel. In fact ‘Mazal Tov’ literally means under a good constellation.

Qualifications

I also did not know that there were requirements to be considered a Jewish community. To be considered, the community needs to have a cemetery, a synagogue, and a ritual bath. While the museum didn’t go into detail as to why these are what is necessary, I find it interesting that there is a standard that must be met to be considered a proper community.

Ghettos

Something relevant to my course in particular seen at the museum related to the sheer number of ghettos the Germans had established. During World War II the Germans created ghettos for Jewish citizens to live in, forcing them to live in terrible conditions, decreasing their chances of survival. What I did not realize was how many ghettos there were. While I have visited ghettos in Krakow and Warsaw, these are only a small handful of the 600 established. I was shocked at the number, which seems so aggressively large, but it shouldn’t be surprising considering the treatment of Jews during World War II by the Nazis.

Interesting People

What I particularly liked about the museum was the personal stories featured throughout. On the walls were short snippets describing life of citizens in the time period being featured, which I enjoyed. In the Holocaust section of the museum this was particularly prominent, with many ordinary people’s experiences being described.

The story that interested me most was about Lejb Szur, a book lover. Szur over the years had accumulated a large collection of books, with a special assortment featuring Jewish life and culture. When the Nazis came Szur somehow managed to convince the Germans to let him open his three story house as a lending library, as a benefit to the Jewish community.

In 1942 however, he got notice that he needed to relocate – within a day. Knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to take all office books with him, he committed suicide, rather killing himself than parting with his most prized possessions. Stories like this are what make me love history, as they show how ordinary life can be so severely affected by external events.

Emigration/Immigration

Something I had wondered was why so many Jews chose to stay in Poland after the war. While I can understand it if your family had survived, or if your community had remained generally intact, that there would be an appeal to stay. But at the same time I can’t fathom how difficult it must have been to stay. In most cases families were torn apart, neighbors turned on neighbors, and cities were destroyed. I can’t imagine living somewhere with the ghosts of the past so near.

It turns out that emigration was much more difficult than I assumed. Countries had low immigration quotas, so it was not possible for many Jews to emigrate. The postwar world wasn’t opening its doors to refugees, with the United States and Palestine being two of the only countries who made efforts to let Jews into their country. It’s estimated that out of the 250,000 Jews in Poland after World War II, only 150,000 left, most of them illegally.

Few in Number

While tours keep pointing out that 93% of Poland is Catholic, I never realized how few people are Jewish as a result. Currently in Poland right now, there are approximately 7,000 practicing Jewish citizens. 7,000. That’s all. In Warsaw alone there are only 500. These numbers seem ridiculously small to me. To think that there was once so many Jewish citizens, and now there are so few is mind-boggling. It’s hard to imagine an entire culture being lost, but that seems to be close to the case of the Polish Jews.

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The POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews was one of the better museums I visited in Warsaw, and in Poland as a whole. It gave fantastic context to Jewish history within Poland, and I would recommend a visit to anyone visiting Warsaw.

The post ‘9 Things Learned at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

Top 9 Krakow Attractions

One of the first Polish cities I was able to explore was Krakow. Located in southern Poland, Krakow is famous for remaining untouched by the Nazis during World War II, thus having its architecture and history intact. This is in direct contrast to other cities seen on my Poland trip, as cities like Warsaw and Gdansk at times had 85% of the city destroyed. While not necessarily my favorite of the cities I visited, I very much enjoyed by time at Krakow. I would recommend visiting, especially if interested in Polish history. Part of the reason I enjoyed my trip so much was a result of the interesting and beautiful attractions, my favorites of which are listed below.

Old Synagogue

The first landmark I saw when visiting Krakow was the Old Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Poland. The synagogue was built sometime in the 15th century, but the exterior was later redone in the Renaissance style. What I found interesting about the synagogue was that it was initially only for men, with extra rooms added later for women so they could also be present for services.

The Old Synagogue today operates as a museum. It was a great introduction to learning about Jewish history in Krakow, as the rooms featured information on important aspects of Jewish life, such as marriage ceremonies, diet, important scriptures, and prayers. I was surprised while at the Old Synagogue, as I hadn’t realized how much I did’t know  about Jewish customs and history. Learning about the customs and history helped frame the rest of my time at Krakow, especially since the synagogue focused on Krakow Jews.

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Ulica Jozefa

One of the streets fun to explore with friends was Ulica Jozefa. This street featured interesting street art, many unique restaurants, pubs, and bars, as well as shops for clothing and knickknacks. Our tour guide mentioned that during the school year (due to the 150,000 students attending higher education universities in Krakow) this street in particular is a popular place for nightlife, especially Endzior, a location that has zapiekankas served until the early hours of the morning. Zapiekankas are open faced sandwiches on baguettes with cheese, mushrooms, and other ingredients. While I myself was not the biggest fan, preferring other Polish cuisine, some friends absolutely loved the zapiekankas they had for dinner one of the nights we went exploring.

Isaak Synagogue

I found the Isaak Synagogue interesting not necessarily for its appearance, but for its story. According to legend, the founder of the synagogue, Ayzik Jakubowicz, had a dream where he found treasure under a bridge in Prague. Acting on this he traveled to Prague, where he discovered he wasn’t allowed to dig for treasure, as soldiers were guarding the bridge.

One of the soldiers came up to him and asked what he was doing. He decided to share his dream with the soldier, causing the soldiers to scoff at him and share how he himself had a dream where there was treasure behind the stove of a poor Jew in Kazimierz named Ayzik Jakubowicz, but he wasn’t crazy enough to travel for a dream. Jakubowicz, returning home, discovered that his oven did in fact have treasure behind it, and with the money he built a synagogue.

The synagogue during the 17th century war with Sweden and in World War Two suffered, being stripped of its interior possessions. It in fact wasn’t until a restoration in 1989 with the fall of Communism that it was reopened, and today is a working synagogue.

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Krakow Ghetto

Across the Vistula River is the Krakow Ghetto, where the Jewish citizens in World War II were forced to live and endure horrors. The ghetto pre-war was an industrial area housing approximately 3,000 people. During the war 17,000 Jews were forced to live in that same location, resulting in apartments with only 200 square feet per person, with many families living in a single apartment. The entire ghetto was surrounded by a wall, which was in the shape of headstones.

During the war, the ghetto was divided into those able to work, and those unable to work. People unable to work were murdered in the liquidation of the ghetto between 1942 and 1943, with the majority sent to Bełżec extermination camp, Płaszów labor camp, or Auschwitz concentration camp. The current location has a memorial to those killed during the war featuring 33 empty chairs located throughout the square and 37 smaller chairs at the tram stop on the edge of the square.

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Schindler’s Museum

Oskar Schindler, a Nazi factory owner who saved approximately 1,200 Jews in World War II, is known primarily because of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 movie Schindler’s List. For those interested in learning about Schindler and his contributions to the war, an assumption might be that visiting the Schindler’s Museum would be a great way to get this information. This however is not the case. Schindler’s factory, which is now a museum, is not a museum dedicated to his life, but rather tells the story of Krakow during World War II.

The museum itself is absolutely fantastic regardless. It is one of the most interactive museums I’ve been too, similar to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Our tour guide was funny as well, and the immersive atmosphere of the museum truly enriched the history it was telling.

Although not as focused on Schindler himself as I expected, the museum is one of the most engaging tours I experienced in Poland, and I feel as though it is a great place to visit. While I loved my tour guide, I wish I had more time to explore the exhibits, and would consider going back a second time because I enjoyed the museum so much and would love to learn more.

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Wawel Hill 

One tour I took while in Krakow was to Wawel Hill, featuring the Castle and Chapel. They were built in the 14th century, and are very important in Polish history, as most Polish kings were crowned here, and a significant amount are buried here as well. In more recent history, it is where Pope John Paul II gave his first mass.

The castle tour was interesting, as the art was impressive. In one of the rooms, Peputies’ Hall (also referred to the Heads Home) the ceiling features 30 wooden heads, only a fraction of the 194 initially created. My favorite was the Senator’s Hall, a room surrounded with tapestries depicting one long narrative. Our tour guide said this was very unique to Wawel Castle, as there are few tapestry collections that have entire stories depicted like the one featured in the Senator’s Hall. The art expanded beyond the room decor though – Wawel Castle features an impressive art collection, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an Ermine’ which was featured when I visited.

The cathedral was not only beautiful, but historically interesting as well. The center of the cathedral features an alter, the largest Gothic altarpiece in the entire world. What interested me most about the cathedral however wasn’t the altar, the fantastic artwork, or even the crypt where Polish royalty lay, but rather the stories of the saints important to Poland. Two of particular interest were Stanislaus of Szczepanów and Jadwiga of Poland. Stanislaus is the first Polish saint, murdered by the king after expressing his disapproval, which led to the exile of the king, and eventual sainthood for Stanislaus. The other story that interested me was that of Jadwiga, the first female monarch of Poland. When she was 12 she was to be married to the king of Lithuania, but the legend states she only agreed to marry him after divine inspiration and his promise to convert from pagan to Roman Catholic. Because he also  had to encourage his people to convert as well, Jadwiga is honored. If I had more time at the cathedral I would have loved to learn about other influential Poles in religious history, but unfortunately my tour had moved ahead.

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Wieliczka Salt Mine

One of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites I have had the opportunity to visit was the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine, initially opened for business in the 13th century, for visitors in the 18th century, no longer produces commercialized salt thanks to the expense, although it does produce about 15,000 tons of salt a year from the salty water being pumped through the mine alone. The mine as a whole was superbly maintained and fun to explore.

The tour explores approximately two miles below ground, and while it felt as though I was seeing a large percentage of the mine, in fact it was only about 1% due to its vastness. The air in the mine is also good for your health as well, and there are air locks on doors to ensure that it is properly maintained.

The structure of the mine interested me as well. The mine features many chapels and sculptures, including the grandiose St. Kinga’s Chapel which was stunning. What I had trouble wrapping my head around was how everything was made of salt. The floors were made of salt and were only shiny because people constantly step on them, there was a replica of da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper,’ and the walls were at times covered completely with salt, which we were encouraged to lick on our tour. The salt mine was something completely different than I’ve ever experienced, and a fun way to spend an afternoon.

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Saint Mary’s Basilica

During a free Sunday evening my friends and I decided to attend a Catholic mass. We were able to observe a mass at Saint Mary’s Basilica, one of the most beautiful churches in Krakow, and the most beautiful in Poland I’ve seen yet. The mass was interesting to me as it was in Polish, and while I do not understand Polish I was able to follow along pretty well. Even if a mass is not of interest, the basilica is a must see. It is absolutely stunning, filled with color, and would be a shame to miss, especially being so close in Main Market Square.

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Auschwitz-Birkenau

A must see when visiting Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most notorious concentration camps. The camp, which is where 1 of every 6 Jews was killed during the Holocaust, is an emotional experience. The museum shows an in-depth look into the horrors of life at Auschwitz-Birkenau, featuring photographs and belongings of prisoners, and includes a tour of a gas chamber and crematorium. Although not the happiest of trips, it will most definitely be impactful. As the quote featured at Auschwitz by George Santayana says, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” To see what I learned from my tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau click here.

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The post ‘Top 9 Krakow Attractions‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

9 Unexpected Parts of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau

While in Poland I visited the most famous (and deadly) network of concentration and extermination camps during World War II: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Visiting the camps was one of the most gut wrenching experiences I’ve ever had. The history attributed to the camps is horrible, and seeing where everything took place adds an extra layer of depth to the stories I’ve read. There were however parts of my visit that took me by surprise, thanks to unexpected facts taught on my tour.

Camp Orchestra

While at The Schindler Museum in Krakow I learned how German Nazis did everything in their power to strip culture from Polish citizens. Therefore I was surprised to learn that when prisoners were walking into Auschwitz I they were met with a prisoners’s orchestra playing German national songs. While its purpose was to encourage the new inmates to walk in step, I found it surprising there was a camp band, especially when conditions at the camp were so horrifying. Looking around Auschwitz it seems so impossible that something as beautiful as music would ever have a place in a location so awful.

A Complex of Camps

When I thought about Auschwitz, I incorrectly assumed it was one large camp. In actually it is a network of three camps. Auschwitz I was the original camp, but when it ran out of room Auschwitz II-Birkenau was built to accommodate the influx of people. Auschwitz II-Birkeanau was initially intended solely for women, with men at Auschwitz I, but later on a section of Auschwitz I was reserved for women when Auschwitz II could no longer accommodate all the women. Auschwitz II was also where the trains would drop off prisoners, and because so many were gassed upon arrival, approximately 90% of the Auschwitz prisoners were killed here. Auschwitz III, while not available to tour, is also interesting as it is where Elie Wiesel, author of ‘Night,’ was held prisoner.

Concentration Camp vs. Extermination Camp

Before visiting Auschwitz I believed that a concentration camp and an extermination camp were the exact same thing, an incorrect assumption as each camp had a different function. An extermination camp had one purpose, and one purpose only: to murder people deemed unworthy of life in mass numbers. A concentration camp on the other hand had a variety of purposes: as a work camp, a POW camp, a reformatory facility, etc. The concentration camps treated prisoners so terribly however, that if a prisoner were to follow all rules regarding food consumption and work hours it was unlikely he or she would survive more than three months.

Buildings Already There

Something that I also found surprising was that buildings in Auschwitz I were primarily adapted from a Polish military barracks, rather than being built from scratch. While this would make more sense from a cost and time perspective, I hadn’t imagined the Nazis wanting to use something that they themselves hadn’t built, especially when they thought themselves so much superior to most nations and races. Regardless, 28 of the buildings in Auschwitz I were already standing prior to Germany’s invasion, and were easily converted into a concentration camp.

The Forgotten Holocaust 

An aspect of World War II I find important to remember is that more than Jewish citizens were being persecuted. It is clear why there is an emphasis on Jewish losses, as they were tremendous: 6 million were killed in Europe, 1.1 million of which were killed in Auschwitz, a solid sixth of all deaths. But it is important to realize that other groups were also targeted.

The breakdown of Auschwitz deaths were as follows: out of the 1.3 million people total, 1.1 million were Jewish, 140,000-150,000 were Poles, 23,000 were Roma (gypsies), 15,000 were Soviet POW, and the remaining 25,000 were a mix of other races and nationalities. These numbers are approximate because bodies of prisoners were for the most part burned once they were murdered.

Of these groups, the Roma people should be highlighted: of the 23,000 Roma in Auschwitz, 21,000 were killed. In the Nuremberg Laws they were considered to be equal to jews, and over the course of the Holocaust it is estimated 220,000-500,000 Roma were murdered, slightly more than 25% of the European Roma population. My tour guide made an effort to point out that while the Jews were targeted and faced extreme tragedy, one that should be honored and remembered, it is also important to recognize that there were also other races that faced great losses and extreme genocide.

Auschwitz Album

Throughout the camps there are impactful pictures of camp life featured. These pictures were not taken by the prisoners of the camp, who had little to no possessions, but rather by the SS guards. While we do not know necessarily why SS guards took so many pictures, it helps us today visualize what the camps were like, and how prisoners were treated. These pictures are featured in the Auschwitz Album, which is currently in possession by Yad Vashem, a Holocaust museum in Israel. More pictures were initially included in the album, but some have been returned to survivors and their families.

A part of the museum was also dedicated to showing pictures of prisoners. In the early years at Auschwitz all prisoners selected for work rather than extermination entering the camp had their fingerprints and picture taken. In 1943 the SS guards stopped taking pictures of inmates due to the extremely quick death rate facing prisoners.

Impact of Relics

The most emotional part of my Auschwitz tour for me was not touring the camp itself, but rather an exhibit on what was left behind by prisoners. In this section of the museum there are multiple rooms featuring relics such as glasses, shoes, even hair, taken from the prisoners once they were murdered or imprisoned in the camp. Some of these items, such as the gold teeth, were sold, while other objects were dumped in ‘Canada,’ a portion of the camp dedicated to holding the belongings of prisons.

To me it was this section of the museum that truly drove home how many people had been brutally killed. While I can hear that 1.3 million people were killed, it’s hard to visualize that many people losing their lives. In contrast, seeing a horrifyingly large collection of hair removed from the dead helps to hit home the terrible realities of tragedies of Auschwitz, and of World War II in whole.

Auschwitz Tattoos

My understanding was that Nazis tattooed identification numbers on all prisoners in every concentration camp, right from the beginning. This was not the case. In actuality the tattooing system started as a result of Auschwitz prisoners dying so quickly. With so many corpses it was hard to identify who was who, especially once the clothes with identifying numbers were removed from the dead. To make the process easier, tattooing was introduced, but only at Auschwitz. From popular media I had wrongfully assumed it was a common practice at every camp initiated at the start of the war.

Few People Liberated

Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets on January 27, 1945, but when the camp was liberated only approximately 7,000 people were present. In the weeks prior the SS guards began to evacuate the camps, making sure there were no prisoners left alive or evidence of the horrors committed. As a result, nine days before the Soviets liberated the camp, SS guards sent about 60,000 prisoners on a death march towards Wodzisław Śląski, where they were then sent to other camps. Roughly 15,000 prisoners died on the march.

I had thought that when the camp was liberated everyone was set free – not just those too sick or weak to make the journey. Learning this really showed me how little I knew about concentration and extermination camps as a whole. I had just assumed that prisoners were at the camp until the war was won and then everyone was sent back home. Discovering that even when it was liberated so many people that spent years at Auschwitz were still not free was heartbreaking to hear, and really added to narrative of Auschwitz.

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The post ‘9 Unexpected Parts of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

6 Things Learned at The Schindler Museum

The Schindler Museum in Krakow was primarily focused on the effects of World War Two in Krakow, Poland, rather than on Oskar Schindler himself. Besides being slightly surprised at the lack of focus on Schindler, the museum was absolutely fantastic. The design of the museum was great, with every new room focusing on a different part of the war, being completely immersive. Our tour guide was also very knowledgable, and on the tour I learned much more about World War II, especially in relation to Krakow and Poland as a whole.

A Destroyed Culture

Unsurprisingly, when the Nazis took over Krakow they removed as much of the city’s culture as possible. To do this they closed down schools, museums, operas, essentially anything relating to Jewish culture. The Nazis even made a point to kill authors and artists in particular, as well as destroying art and burning books. Monuments in squares that were considered anti-German were also torn down. To recover some of the important monuments, the people of Krakow used alcohol impairment to their advantage – they gave the guards a significant amount of vodka and convinced them to give over pieces of monuments, some of which the Schindler Museum had on display.

An Unlawful Pope

Something I hadn’t thought in depth before touring the Schindler Museum was education in wartime. When the Nazis came in, schools and other education centers were shut down, so the resistance movements set up underground education centers. I hadn’t considered what would happen to children under a Nazi controlled state, but logically it makes sense that they would not be allowed to go to school for fear of continuing a ‘Jewish way of thinking.’ An interesting fact our tour guide shared was that Pope John Paul II was one of the students at these underground universities. When in Krakow he attended a school run by the Archbishop of Krakow, Adam Stefan Cardinal Sapieha.

An Untouched City

Another interesting fact mentioned on the tour was that Krakow was almost completely untouched by the war. A large portion of this was because it was declared the capital of the new government, which meant it was of more use completely intact. So while cities like Warsaw had around 90% of the city decimated, Krakow looks how it did when built hundreds of years ago. This article does a great job of going into more detail about Krakow during World War II for those interested.

A Banned Book

Something that took me by surprise was when our tour guide discussed Mein Kampf, the book Adolf Hitler wrote detailing his future plans for Germany. Our guide mentioned that it is illegal for a copy to be owned in Polish homes (but places like libraries or other academia can have a copy). While I had never considered buying a copy of Mein Kampf, I was shocked it was banned. I don’t have personal experience with banned books, and have never thought I would be unable to purchase a book I wanted to read. I can understand why it would be banned, considering it’s historical significance, but I also wonder where the line is between respecting those who are offended and were brutalized as a result of some of the ideas in the book, and giving people the right to read and own whatever they wish.

A Small Home

The ghetto size and the conditions of the ghetto were also astonishing to learn about. Before the ghetto was cleared for the Jews, approximately 3,000 people lived in the ghetto. The Jewish population moving in to the same area was much larger: approximately 17,000 people. This means that multiple families were living together in cramped quarters, at times having only one bathroom for multiple families. A section of the museum gave a very good visualization of the cramped quarters, which I thought helped me get a better idea of the truly terrible conditions Jewish citizens were forced to deal with during the war.

A Sweet Reasoning

There is a section of the museum dedicated to Schindler, albeit a smaller one than I had expected. This part of the museum is very nicely portrayed, as it shows Schindler’s office and has a section listing the names of the people on ‘Schindler’s List,’ the list of people he had saved from a concentration camp. What was particularly interesting was that Schindler never gave an official reason for why he began saving Jewish lives. Our tour guide said that Schindler gave the reason ‘because they were my friends,’ but it’s still a mystery as to what initially inspired him to help.

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I enjoyed visiting the Schindler Museum and would recommend it to people interested in Jewish history, Polish history, or just who wanted to see where part of the Steven Spielberg movie was filmed.

I really enjoyed visiting the Schindler Museum and would definitely recommend that people interested in history, or wanting to see where part of the Steven Spielberg movie was filmed.

The post ‘6 Facts Learned at The Schindler Museum‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

 

Top 13 Prague Attractions

In only three days Prague has managed to become one of my favorite cities, with its beautiful architecture, rich history, and plethora of things to do. While in the Czech Republic I focused on many historical aspects of Prague and surrounding towns, especially in relation to World War II history. Because of this, I was able to take part in tours that showed off some famous Prague attractions, which helped me see some of the city’s most beloved attractions. Although there are many places and activities to do in Prague, below is a list of thirteen of my favorite attractions, ones that made the city so magnificent for me.

Prague Castle

On the first day in Prague I was able to check out Prague Castle. I will admit that I wish I had time to go back, as I was already up for 24 hours straight by the time I toured the castle, which makes me doubt I was coherent enough to fully appreciate its grandeur. During the first part of the tour we saw St. Vitus Cathedral, which was gorgeous. I’m a fan of stained glass and the stained glass in the St. Vitus Cathedral was ornate and fantastic, especially one window in particular that was not only so vivid, but very detailed as well. The castle also has two guards who change each hour, similar to Buckingham Palace. We were not present for the changing, but our tour guide said it was very interesting to see. The palace is huge, the largest ancient castle in the world, and while we were only able to see a small part of it, it was still amazing. Here we were also able to see some views of Prague which was also amazing to see. I wish we had more time, and would recommend it on a trip to Prague if only because I want to see what more it has to offer!

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Astrological Clock

One of the most famous tourist attractions of Prague is the Astrological Clock in Old Town Square. Every hour during the day the clock chimes and has apostles that ‘bless’ on-lookers, coming out of the clock and rotating around. Tourists crowd the clock to see this, smartphones ready to take video, not wanting to miss the activity on the hour. While I think the clock was absolutely gorgeous, I was disappointed by the apostles and in whole the clock’s hour chiming. It was interesting to see it because it was so hyped up, but I don’t exactly know why it is so praised – if I were in Old Town on the hour I think it is something interesting to check out, but I didn’t think it was worth the trip for the short show alone. The clock itself is absolutely stunning however, and should not be missed.

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Heydrich Assassination Tour

Although not necessarily in Prague, my group went on a tour of Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination, which included the village of Lidice completely destroyed by the Nazis. As someone interested in history I definitely would recommend the tour, if only to gain a greater appreciation for the struggles the Czech people had during World War Two, but if not interested in Czech or World War Two history I recommend skipping the tour. Read more about the tour and the history surrounding Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination and Lidice’s destruction here.

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Klementinum Library

The Klementinum Library is absolutely exquisite. The entire library has seven million books in collection, the building has two churches, two chapels, and seven courtyards, and it is overall fantastic. What I found disappointing about the library however was the fact that even on a tour you are unable to go in the library itself. Considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, you are able to peer in, but are not allowed entrance as the room is temperature controlled, and photography is strictly forbidden. The books were stunning from what I was able to see, and they have a collection of historical globes, one of which doesn’t even include Australia, as it hadn’t been discovered yet at the time of the globe’s creation. We were also able to go up to the top of the library, climbing up many flights of stairs to see the city spread out. This was one of my favorite ways to see Prague because it was close enough to distinguish certain buildings, while still being above everything. If interested in libraries, history, or seeing from the top of a tall building, then I would recommend the Klemtinum tour, but if not there were other more interactive activities to do in Prague.

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Tredelniks in Old Town

Old Town in Prague was beautiful as well, and one of the areas of town I would most highly recommend. In general I enjoy older and more classic looking towns, and Old Town in Prague has that vibe. Pretty much every façade of every building in Old Town blew me away, very elaborate and colorful, at times with elaborate statues as well. While in Old Town my friends and I were able to observe Our Lady Before Tyn, an exquisite church and just hang out and relax. We also decided to have a classic Prague tredelnik, which is rolled dough with a sugar and a walnut mix topped on it. I had a few during the time in Prague, once with Nutella inside, and another with ice-cream, both of which I would recommend. What I also found fun was that while we were there the jazz musician Charles Lloyd was performing a concert which we were able to watch which we ate and enjoyed the beauty of Old Town.

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Lennon Wall 

An off the beaten path attraction near the Charles Bridge is the Lennon Wall (not to be confused with Lenin). The Lennon Wall is a wall that has been spray painted over and over again, initially featuring inspirational quotes and images relating to the Beatles. It was very colorful and fun to attempt to find, as my friends and I got lost multiple times trying to find it, resulting in an interesting exploration of the streets of Prague. The wall itself is also exciting, full of color and a great place to take pictures. I myself am not the biggest Beatles fan, but even I could enjoy this part of Prague. Trying to find the Lennon Wall when in Prague is definitely an adventure worth having.

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The Grotto

In Wallenstein Palace’s there is a grotto interesting to check out. What is most fascinating is the Dripstone Wall, a wall standing in stark contrast to the garden surrounding it. The grotto wall is a collection of black-gray rocks that are seemingly melting. There is also a garden area with peacocks walking around which was gorgeous, and an area to check out the Palace building which I didn’t explore as much, but still a nice break away from the crowded city. While not one of the top things I saw on my trip I think the grotto was a nice change of pace and beautiful in an eerily grotesque way.

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Jan Palach’s Grave

For someone interested in Czech history, especially the country’s relation to Communism, Jan Palach’s grave could be of interest. Palach was the student who set himself on fire in protest of Communism in 1969, and his grave pays tribute to him and his protest, which years later helped impact the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that ended Communism in Czechoslovakia. Our hotel was right next to the cemetery, which made it an easy stop for us, but I would recommend it for those with an interest in history. I find cemeteries to be absolutely gorgeous, which makes me recommend it doubly. For those staying closer to the city hub it might be too far away (around five stops on the green line) for it to be worth the trip, but for those near Flora’s metro stop it’s definitely worth popping by.

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The Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter in Prague is a must see. To get in you have three options, the second being the option that provided us the opportunity to see most of the attractions while still being relatively cost efficient. To start, we walked through Pinkas Synagogue, which was beautiful. The synagogue has the names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust written on the walls, organized by the town the people were removed from. This synagogue was absolutely stunning on its own, and would have been worth the cost of admission by itself.

After the Pinkas Synagogue we then walked through the Old Jewish Cemetery, which was amazing. Being a fan of cemeteries I found it beautiful, and the graves were so old and extraordinary. Following the Old Jewish Cemetery we looked around the Ceremonial Hall which housed artifacts such as very elaborate paintings, things used in religious ceremonies, and old texts. This part wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but I felt as though it helped enhance the experience of the day.

The next thing we saw in the Jewish Quarter was the Spanish Synagogue, which is considered one of the most beautiful synagogues in Europe. I can 100% believe that claim, as it was one of the most stunning buildings I have ever been in. The entire synagogue is a mosaic, and is breathtaking. The organ is completely visible as well, and there were some display cases showing off some more Jewish ceremonial artifacts which was amazing. This was my favorite part of the tour by far, and was completely blown away. The Jewish Quarter as a whole is a must see, but the Spanish Synagogue should not be skipped.

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Kafka Head and Statue

Much like the astrological clock, the statues dedicated to Franz Kafka are nice to see, but only if you are already in the area. Kafka, author of ‘Metamorphosis,’ is one of the Czech Republic’s most famous writers, and is thus remembered by the city. The statues themselves are interesting. The first, near the Jewish Quarter, features a man without a head with a smaller individual on his shoulders, and in the Quadrio shopping center there is what is referred to as the ‘rotating head’ of Kafka, a sculpture of layered mirror metal forming the shape of a head. While each of the statues were cool and unique, unless you were very interested in Kafka in particular I don’t think either is worth making an individual trip to see, but are worth searching out if you are generally close.

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Petrin Lookout Tower on Petrin Hill

The views of Prague are absolutely stunning, in part because Prague is such a beautiful city. One of the better views of Prague I was able to check out while visiting was the view from the Petrin Lookout Tower, the Eiffel Tower looking building on the top of Petrin Hill. To get to the top there are two options: climb, or take the tram. My friends and I decided to climb to the top, and while I felt like I was going to die a few times due to shortness of breath, the way up had many lookout points where you could take pictures of the city, in addition to being fantastic exercise. Figuring out which path to take to get to the top was slightly challenging, and at times I fel t as though we were doing some unnecessary walking when we realized we had taken the wrong path, but it was manageable. When at the top of the hill you come to the base of the Petrin Lookout Tower. To get to the top you have to walk 300 steps up, or pay the fare for the elevator. Although I was exhausted I am glad I choose to walk up, as halfway up there is a lookout section where you could take pictures which I actually preferred to the absolute top, as at the top there are windows surrounding the structure, and I believe that the lack of windows leads to better pictures. I would definitely recommend going to the Petrin Hill for people who want to see a bird’s eye view of Prague.

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Royal Czech Orchestra at Palace Colloredo-Mansfeld

A special event two of my friends and I attended while in Prague was the Royal Czech Orchestra at Palace Colloredo-Mansfeld, a location where Mozart himself played. The orchestra was amazing, with two violinists, a viola, and two cellos, featuring a soprano, violinist and cello player for certain numbers. What I found particularly interesting was the location. I had assumed it would be a typical theater, maybe a tad smaller. Instead, we were sitting in a large room. The room looks similar to what I imagine 19th century balls being held in, very open with a high ceiling, giant mirrors on either side, and an amazing fresco on the ceiling. While I was at first worried that this smaller room meant the concert was going to be lackluster, I think it rather made the entire performance feel more intimate. If looking for a show to see while in Prague, I would highly recommend the Royal Czech Orchestra, or truly anything at the Palace Colloredo-Mansfeld.

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Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge is one of the highlights of Prague, as well as being one of the busiest parts of Prague. The bridge is gorgeous, featuring ornate statues, and it is where you can buy touristy paintings and other souvenirs. On my last night I was able to see sunset on the bridge, which was absolutely gorgeous, but in general I enjoyed looking at the bridge from farther away. I think the Charles Bridge is beautiful, and thus taking pictures of Prague with the bridge in the picture beats taking pictures of Prague from the bridge. To get the best experience, I would recommend checking out the bridge either in the late afternoon or early evening as opposed to in the middle of the day, as the bridge can get quite populated. Definitely a must see when visiting Prague.

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The post ‘Top 13 Prague Attractions‘ appeared first on Katherine A Hayes’ personal website.

Reinhard Heydrich’s Assassination and Aftermath

While in Prague I had the opportunity to attend a tour centered around Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination and its aftermath. For those that didn’t know (as I didn’t prior to the tour) Heydrich was Adolf Hitler’s heir apparent in World War Two, founder of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the sister group to the Gestapo. The British Special Operation Executive (SOE) selected him as a target, and trained Josef Gabcik and Jan Kubis so they could assassinate him. The assassination ended up being a success despite multiple things going wrong, such as a jammed gun and misaimed bomb, and Heydrich died from sepsis June 4, 1942. However the aftermath leads many to say that the assassination, while successful in its core mission of killing Heydrich, was a failure thanks to the cruel repercussions that followed.

The first stop on our tour was the location of the assassination. The reason it was selected was because of the hairpin turn that forces drivers to slow down, making it easier for the assassins to strike. It was interesting seeing the location in person, although only some of the landscape is the same. We were able to see the wall one of the assassins hid behind, as well as the location of the second who came in for support when the first’s gun jammed. Currently there is a memorial (which was controversial due to the resulting repercussions) featuring the assassins and a board describing the attack. Quite honestly it was not as impressive as I was imagining, in part because it was just a normal looking road, although it made visualizing the assassination a bit easier.

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We then drove to Lidice, a town literally leveled after Heydrich’s assassination. Hitler initially ordered to execution of 10,000 random Czechs, but realized that would not help the nation’s productivity. So instead, Hitler ordered an investigation of the assassination, where it was falsely reported to him that Lidice, a village northwest of Prague, had assisted the assassins. Because of this, the Nazis went to the village and murdered all men over the age of 15, sent the women to concentration camps, and murdered the children in gas vans. All the buildings were destroyed with explosives, the lake was filled in, and the Nazis even went so far as to dig up the graves in the cemeteries and burn the remains.

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When the Nazis came in, the women and children were collected at the school, and the men at the church. The men were initially executed by a three person execution squad in sets of five, but it was not quick enough, so the Nazis doubled it to ten to hurry the process along. A few of the Ayrian-looking children survived and were given up for adoption to German families, but the others were separated from their mothers and gassed.

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Lidice today looks much different than it did prior to 1942. While before it was a village of nearly 500 people with many homes and farmsteads, a church, and a school, it is now a memorial to the dead. Lidice is an open field with statues and other forms of remembrance where important places like the school and church stood. In addition, the lake has been dug out, and the graveyard has crosses for where they believe people were buried. There is also a museum that shows video footage surrounding the events before and after the destruction, which gives a greater depth to the history of Lidice.

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If given the opportunity to explore Lidice I would recommend it for anyone interested in history, or anyone interested in learning more about the Czech Republic. The horrors at Lidice resulted in the Czech people becoming even more fearful of the regime, and while touring Lidice can be emotional, it is worth seeing in order to gain a greater understanding of the turmoil the Czech people went through during the war.

The post Reinhard Heydrich’s Assassination and Aftermath appeared first on Katherine A. Hayes’ personal website.

Business Book Club: Made To Stick

I love marketing. I also love reading. So when I realized that out of all the books I’ve previously been reading about business (Never Eat Alone, The 4-Hour Workweek, etc.) not a single one was specifically about marketing, I was shocked. And while those books definitely provided great advice and inspiration, I thought it was time to read one specifically for marketing. Enter Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made to Stick.” This book is all about ideas – more specifically why some ideas thrive, and why others fade away. I read the ‘extra sticky’ edition, and wanted to discover if the Heath brothers’ ideas were as sticky as the ones they studied.

Made to Stick

What I Liked:

“Made to Stick” was easy to read. The Heath brothers did a fantastic job of making it sound as though they were having a conversation with you. The tone of the book made it possible to finish in only a few hours, and not feel as though you needed to be locked away in a quiet room to truly concentrate and read every word analytically for fear of losing understanding. The Heath brothers did a great job at making their message easily digestible, teaching you about marketing while also being entertaining.

My favorite part of “Made to Stick” was the interesting examples. The Heath brothers provided a variety of compelling stories, examples, and biographies, while at the same time not overwhelming their readers. While some books I’ve read have what seems like a new example in each and every paragraph, and others focus on the same four examples over and over again, “Made to Stick” featured many varied examples, but keep them reoccurring throughout later chapters. This way there is not only diversity, but it also helps tie the chapters together, showing that certain ideas are sticky not just because of one reason, but because they tie together multiple attributes of successful ideas. The examples themselves were interesting as well, starting from the very first page where the Kidney Heist urban legend is shared, and holding true throughout the book while a nice mix of historic, famous, lesser known, and even plain untrue sticky ideas.

The way “Made to Stick” was formatted also helped make it a good read, as it was organized so well. Each chapter was dedicated to one of the letters in the acronym SUCCESs – simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories. But within each of these chapters there were shorter passages and breaks that made it easy to understand. By having many short passages, each filled with different examples and focus points, the Heath brothers made their book an easy read that gets the main point across without overwhelming the reader with mountains of text.

Another aspect of “Made to Stick” I enjoyed was how certain examples tied into marketing techniques I had either been taught on the job or in classes. Although the book in its entirety is about marketing and advertising, there were instances where specific marketing practices were referenced. For example, in the ‘concrete’ section, the Heath brothers wrote about how employees can get a clear view of the customers they are trying to reach. To do this they referenced one company that described ‘Saddleback Sam,’ a typical customer, over the course of a few paragraphs, describing his demographics and how he enjoys spending his time. This is an example of a buyer’s persona, a fictional representation of a customer, something I learned about in my introductory marketing class. Reading “Made to Stick” and coming across more marketing examples than I expected was not only exciting, but shows that the Heath brothers truly understand marketing and the concepts they promote.

What I Didn’t Like:

While I enjoyed reading “Made to Stick,” at times I felt as though it was more conceptual rather than providing actionable steps for the reader to create their own sticky ideas. While each chapter focused on a different method for creating a sticky idea (simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories) there wasn’t much focus on how the reader could create his or her own successful sticky ideas. I did, however, enjoy the case studies within each chapter that highlighted different situations and showed two different messages for the reader to decide which was stickier, but even that was not a guide to developing a sticky idea, rather identifying sticky ideas. While “Made to Stick” did a good job showcasing how an idea could be crafted a certain way to increase its impact, it didn’t do nearly as good of a job showing how to combine the strategies together to create the stickiest idea possible.

The lack of integration between chapters made it seem as though “Made to Stick” could have been a short essay or a blog post instead of book almost 300 pages long. If most of the examples had been removed, the book could be quickly boiled down into a blog post referencing the six best ways to make an idea stick. While I personally enjoyed reading the book and think the examples are what will make the ideas stick with me, someone else unwilling to make the time investment might not consider the examples worth the extra length.

The Verdict:

While I definitely enjoyed reading “Made to Stick,” I felt as though overall it was better for entertainment and learning some more basic marketing concepts, rather than understanding more complex marketing techniques. If you want a book to ease you into more information heavy books, or if you just want a business book that is a breath of fresh air, this book is for you.

For More on “Made To Stick” and the Heath Brothers:

Website: http://heathbrothers.com/books/made-to-stick/

Heath Brothers: http://heathbrothers.com/about/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Made-to-Stick/112553272092201?fref=ts

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460927938&sr=1-1&keywords=made+to+stick

Top 5 Tourist Attractions in New Orleans

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be one of nine Northeastern students sent to represent NUMA, the Northeastern University Marketing Association, at the American Marketing Association’s International Collegiate Conference (AMA ICC). The conference lasted from Thursday to Saturday, and because of this I was able to spend a few days exploring New Orleans. We were staying at the Sheraton in the French Quarter, and while the conference took up most of our days, I’m happy to say that I was able to see some cool New Orleans tourist attractions in the surrounding area, and begin a list of places I want to explore next year!

A Park With A Palace

One of the most beautiful parts of New Orleans is Jackson Square, featuring the St. Louis Cathedral, something that is literally right out of a Disney princess movie. The park is absolutely gorgeous, a perfect place to walk around and appreciate a beautiful day. Jackson Square is also a hub of activity. When my friends and I went exploring we were met not only with a beautiful view, but we were also able to check out the art the local street vendors were selling, and hear some jazz music being performed right outside the cathedral. The cathedral itself is stunning, and the interior features a high arching ceiling with paintings throughout. For an afternoon where the weather is nice, I would recommend taking a walk and just enjoying the beauty of New Orleans around Jackson Square.

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Dough to Die For

While you are at Jackson Square you should definitely try Cafe du Monde’s famous beignets. Beignets, for those who have yet to have the wonderful experience, are essentially fried dough squares with sugar on top. And they are absolutely delicious. Every single day I was in New Orleans I had at least one beignet, knowing that nothing at home comes even close to the taste. I would bet they are also pretty terrible for your health, but when you are vacationing it’s worth it, especially when you can get three beignets for only three dollars. Although Cafe du Monde has seating, I would recommend getting your coffee and beignets to go and exploring more of the French Quarter. The coffee house is right near Jackson Square, so you can sit in the park and enjoy your treat, and also close to the Mississippi if you want to eat along the river. Even better is the fact that Cafe du Monde is open 24/7, so if you were feeling hungry after a late night on Bourbon Street you could stop by and have your hunger satisfied!

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A New Kind of Museum Experience

Potentially my favorite part of my New Orleans trip was visiting the National WWII Museum. This museum was quite possibly one of the best museums I’ve ever visited, if not the most enjoyable. The entire visit was very immersive, and I wish I had more time to truly appreciate all of it. To start the tour off, you receive a keycard that has the story of a person important in World War II history (mine was Doris Miller, the first African American male to receive the Navy Cross) that you can reference throughout the museum to hear about how his or her life was progressing at different points throughout the war.

The way the museum was set up was amazing too. Each room you traveled through was well designed, adding to the immersive experience. The part of the museum dedicated to the battles at Guadalcanal and island hopping felt as though you were actually on a beach, while the ‘Road to Berlin’ was filled with snow capped trees and even had projections of snow falling from the sky. At every point through the museum you were able to feel involved, as though history was truly surrounding you.

Unfortunately I had to rush through the entire second half of the museum to make it back in time for the award banquet. I would love to have had a few more hours in the museum, for there was so much more to see, including pretty much the entire European front, the rest of Miller’s life story, as well as the Tom Hanks narrated 4D movie experience ‘Beyond All Boundaries’ (which has a pretty stacked cast!). Being at the museum made me fall in love with history a little bit more, and has gotten me even more excited for my dialogue to Poland this summer where I will be learning more about World War Two and the Cold War.

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Art Meet Memorial

The Holocaust Memorial in New Orleans was one of the most creative memorials I have seen in quite some time. The basic concept is that while there are nine separate pillars of art, where you stand impacts what you see. This is a form of kinetic art, something the artist Yaacov Agam helped to pioneer. The way this monument works is that there are seven different places to stand indicated on the ground in a star like pattern. Each time you face the memorial from a new spot, you see a different image, one that is connected to a theme related to World War Two.

I was pleasantly surprised to come across this memorial. I find the uniqueness of the art absolutely fascinating, and think it really adds to the message. The fact that an artist is able to design a piece where from one angle I see the Star of David, another a Menorah, and another a rainbow is truly outstanding to me. Although my friends and I did not stay too long, I found it to be one of the more impactful aspects of my trip, and would recommend that a traveler visiting New Orleans carve out a half an hour to walk around the memorial and understand the significance of each new view.

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Photo Credit: Marie Yatsyk

Your Future Marketers

Although not something the average New Orleans visitor can participate in, attending the American Marketing Association’s International Collegiate Conference is a conference I am glad I have had the opportunity to experience. This year Northeastern University’s Marketing Association performed absolutely phenomenal: we took home five awards, a new record for us. The conference is also a great opportunity to learn more about marketing as a whole. While at the AMA ICC I had the opportunity to hear some great speakers talk about a lot of different aspects of marketing. One of my favorites was Daryl Weber, who spoke about the unconscious power of brands, and explained how marketing can be approached from a psychological standpoint, which was very interesting to consider. It was also helpful to hear what other chapters were doing across the nation so we can potentially adopt some of their ideas to help grow our chapter. Although a very niche event, I find the AMA ICC to be a fantastic conference worth attending, and I definitely look forward to attending year after year.

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I had an amazing time in New Orleans. The weather was great the first day, and although it was rainier towards the end, New Orleans is a fun city to explore. One of the best things about visiting New Orleans is how excited I am to go back. I have already started a list of things to do next time, such as a jazz club, a voodoo museum, and a ferry ride across the Mississippi. New Orleans is a beautiful city to visit, and I would recommend a trip for anyone wanting to have a warm, relaxing vacation filled with beautiful sites and interesting activities.