2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Trudy Rubin
September 21 – October 2, 2018

As a continuing wave of populist nationalism confronts democracies across Europe, this trip will visit two fascinating countries at the epicenter of the challenge.

Why is there a rise of nationalism? Who is helping the nearly one million immigrants into Europe?  Why is there a revival of Jewish life and culture in the lands of the Holocaust?

POLAND – a country with a deep tradition of both democracy and nationalism that was the scene of some of the most tragic crimes of the Holocaust – became a proud new democracy after the fall of communism.  But Poland is sliding backwards towards autocracy under a new ultra-nationalistic government that has taken controversial positions on Holocaust history.  Sixty thousand far right nationalists recently marched through Warsaw. 

In Warsaw and Krakow, we will meet with local journalists and civic activists, who will help us understand why Polish history seems to be moving in reverse.  We will also visit Auschwitz and talk with local Jewish leaders about why Holocaust history has become controversial again 70 years after WWII. 

GERMANY – had been a steady bulwark against the populist wave rippling through Europe until last fall’s election when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity slipped – largely over the immigration issue.  Although she remains the (weakened) anchor of the liberal order in Europe, the German parliamentary opposition is now led by the uber-right AFD (alternative fur Deutchland) party, in the federal parliament for the first time. We will talk to German journalists, think tank experts and Jewish leaders about the strength of populism in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, and what they predict for the future.   

Trudy Rubin is the Worldview columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and a member of The Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board. Her column appears twice weekly in The Inquirer and runs in many other U.S. newspapers.

Trudy Rubin
Worldview columnist

The Philadelphia Inquirer


Friday, September 21 – Departure from U.S. gateways.
Depart from your US gateway to Warsaw. Iconic Journeys Worldwide will be happy to help with your international air needs…

Saturday, September 22 – arrival in Warsaw
Upon your arrival in Warsaw around noon, you will be transferred to your boutique hotel in central Warsaw. The remainder of your day is at your leisure. This evening, we assemble as a group, providing you an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and hear from Trudy Rubin about the importance of the tour’s theme and the type of people we will be meeting in the days’ ahead.

Welcome dinner in a local restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. Overnight in Warsaw. (D)

Warsaw’s old town

Sunday, September 23 – Warsaw
Today, being Sunday when life in Poland takes a back seat to business and other activities, we will be touring areas of the city, including the Royal Castle, Market Square, the Barbican, Holy Cross Church and have a walk along the Vistula River. We will also have a guest speaker this evening prior to dinner.

In November of 2017, tens of thousands of fascists and white supremacists marched in a demonstration in Warsaw as Poles celebrated their country’s Independence Day. Protesters marched under far-right banners, with one reading “White Europe of brotherly nations.” Many carried the national white-and-red flag as others set off flares and firecrackers, filling the air with red smoke.

With the rise of nationalism and populism in Poland, how are Poles who are against these views coping with the situation? Why is it happening and how does this justapose with the phenomena of a rise in Jewish culture and Holocaust law, despite the Poland’s tiny Jewish community that exists today, of what was once some 3 million Jews?

A meeting will also be arranged while in Poland with a “think tank” like organization to help explain this rising political situation in Poland and why Poland’s democracy is in retreat.

With an increasing enforcement of laws in Poland making it a crime to imply Polish participation in the Nazi’s activities during WW II, this will be a most interesting day. Today’s program will include a visit to the Great Synagogue and the former Jewish ghetto.

Dining tonight is independent with many options nearby. You will be provided with some suggestions for where you might want to enjoy dinner tonight. Overnight in Warsaw. (B)

Monday, September 24 – Warsaw
Today we will visit the former headquarters of the Communist party, the government district and the Polish Parliament…the Sejm. Today’s structure goes back to contemporary times, when after the end of Communist rule in 1989, the Senate was reinstated as the upper house of a bicameral national assembly, while the Sejm became the lower house. The Sejm is now composed of 460 deputies elected by proportional representation every four years.

Among the personalities with whom we will be meeting are journalists from Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading liberal newspaper. We will also have the opportunity to meet one of Poland’s elected representatives, as well as a meeting with a well-known Pole who was among the leaders of the “Solidarity Movement” prior to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Overnight in Warsaw. (B, L)

Choir at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument

Tuesday, September 25 – Krakow
Check out of your Warsaw hotel for the 2-3 hours’ drive to Krakow. Once arriving in Krakow, we will tour some of this city, which survived damage during WW II. We will visit the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Schindler’s Museum and factory, as well as having a meeting with a member of Krakow’s small, but vibrant Jewish community.

Dinner suggestions to be provided, with many options available in central Krakow. Overnight in Krakow. (B, L)

Central Krakow

Wednesday, September 26 – Auschwitz-Birkenau-Krakow
This morning we drive approximately one and a half hours to the infamous Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Under Poland’s new laws, suggesting that Auschwitz was a Polish camp is punishable as a crime. We will tour the camp with a local Polish citizen who can tell us more about what took place at Auschwitz.

Ruin of barracks, stoves and chimneys at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Afternoon return to Krakow, where the remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore the city.
We will have a speaker this evening, prior to dinner. Dining suggestions will be provided for tonight. (B)

Thursday, September 27 – Warsaw – Berlin
This morning we check out of our Krakow hotel and head towards Berlin, with two important stops during the day.

Our first stop is Wroclaw, Poland, the country’s fourth largest city. Before World War II, Wroclaw, known in German as Breslau, was part of Germany and Germany’s third-largest Jewish community. Originally inaugurated in 1829, the White Stork synagogue is the only synagogue in the city to have survived the War and languished in disrepair for many years. It was returned to Jewish community ownership in the mid-1990s, after which sporadic restoration work was carried out by Poland-based Norwegian singer Bente Kahan who came up with the Bente Kahan Foundation in 2006, aiming to furthering mutual respect and human rights through the perspective of the Holocaust.

Following Wroclaw, we continue our journey towards Berlin with a crossing into Germany and making a visit to Cottbus. During WW II, Cottbus was taken by the Red Army. From 1949 until German reunification in 1990, Cottbus was part of the German Democratic Republic (East German). Our purpose for stopping in Cottbus is to meet with those who have been opposing what has become somewhat of a hub for neo-Nazis. We will be meeting with a representative of the Cottbus Nazifrei movement which is against all such right-wing movements, learning about their efforts at opposing this resurgance of neo-Nazi sentiment.

View of Cottbus, Germany

Continue to Berlin. Dinner and overnight in Berlin. (B, D)

View of Berlin

Friday, September 28 – Berlin
Touring of Berlin to include the old Jewish Quarter, Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, State Opera and more…
Additional meetings will take place today. Overnight in Berlin. (B)

Saturday, September 29 – Berlin
Today’s touring will concentrate on East Berlin and the Cold War days, which will include Alexanderplatz, Karl Marx Boulevard, Airlift Memorial, the Stasi Museum and more.

We will have the opportunity to have a meeting with journalists from Taggesspiegel, a longstanding Berlin daily, as well as an evening meeting with some young, German professionals and some former East Berliners who are now civil society activists

Berlin is a city filled with dining options. We will be providing you numerous suggestions for tonight’s independent dining. Overnight in Berlin. (B)


Berlin is dynamic and youthful!

Sunday, September 30 – Berlin
Touring today will include be refugee tour, so to speak, as we learn how Germany is coping with the nearly one million refugees they have agreed to accept just since 2015, alone. We will meet with some refugees and with an expert on the refugee crisis.  We will also visit the Kreutzberg neighborhood, which is known as the Turkish neighborhood, where you will have an opportunity to enjoy a Turkish lunch.

There are some communities welcoming the nearly one million refugees into German.

This afternoon, we will also visit Grunewald, Platform 16, the location of the infamous Wannsee Conference, the Max Libermann villa and the Jewish Museum. Overnight in Berlin. (B, L)

Monday, October 1 – Berlin
Today’s program will include a visit to the Bundestag and Parliament and meeting with one of its members who is of Muslim background who can speak to the situation within Germany regarding the assimilation process of two generations of Germans who were born in Muslim countries and/or raised within Germany by parents who were from Muslim countries. To what degree have these Germans of Muslim background been accepted into German society and what are the hurdles they face?

We will also be having a speaker tonight from one of Germany’s leading newspapers, as well as a « Farewell Dinner ».  Overnight in Berlin. (B)

Tuesday, October 2 – Berlin
Transfers will be arranged to the airport for your return to the US. (B)


About Trudy Rubin…

Trudy Rubin, on left, in Tunisia covering Tunisia’s Revolution in 2011.

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary in 2016 and 2001, and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.



Warsaw:  Mamaison Residence Diana  or similar

Krakow: Queen Boutique Hotel or similar

Berlin:  Albrechtshoff Hotel or similar



Cost per person: $5,495 per person.

No Single Supplement!

What is included:
* All hotels with breakfast and meals included, as indicated by B, L, D, entrance fees at sites noted on itinerary, water with group sit-down lunches and breakfasts,
* English speaking Tour Manager throughout and coach
* Airport transfers for those arriving to Warsaw on September 21st and departing Berlin on October 2, 2018
* All honorariums paid to speakers and/or organizations.

What is NOT included:
* International airfare Warsaw and/or Berlin
* Alcohol, additional beverages and any items of a personal nature.
* Travel insurance.
* Gratuities to local Tour Manager

TO REGISTER OR FOR INFORMATION, click: Registration for Challenges to Democracy

For additional information, contact Iconic Journeys Worldwide at; or 888-474-5502.