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?

Join this tour,
Challenges to Democracy: Poland & Germany
with Pulitzer Prize Finalist Trudy Rubin
   and your host, Iconic Journeys Worldwide founder,

Jerry Sorkin.

A short list of the special people you will be meeting on “Challenges to Democracy”, in addition to the places you will visit…

In Warsaw and Krakow, Poland

  A leading member of the Solidarity movement that overthrew communism

  An editor from Gazeta Wyborcza, the leading independent Polish daily newspaper

  A Polish member of the European Parliament

  A leader of Women’s Strike, which has fought government/church efforts to limit  women’s rights

  A leader of Poland’s Jewish community (small, but risen from the ashes).

  A Polish think tank expert on why the Polish government and other Eastern European democracies have reverted to authoritarian politics.


In Berlin, Germany

A Muslim-German member of the Bundestag

Journalists from Tagesspiegel, a major Berlin daily

A former Christian Science Monitor Germany correspondent and longtime expert on Germany and its role in Europe, and on Germany’s relationship with Russia

A visit to a refugee center helping to absorb the nearly 1million new refugees and a meeting with Syrian refugees

A meeting with members of Berlin’s Jewish community on the rise of a new anti-semitism.

Other experts on Islam in Germany, and how Germans counter the rise of the populist-nationalist far right.


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, we will combine tourism and history with exposure to the political issues that are rocking Poland.

In the morning, you will get a taste of Polish history – that included Nazi occupation, decades of communism, the Holocaust, return to democracy and now back pedaling towards right wing authoritarianism: we will visit the Royal Castle and, the Old Town Square (rebuilt stone by stone after the Nazis levelled it as the Russians watched from across the Vistula river.)

We will also visit the Great Synagogue and the former Jewish ghetto, where we will meet with a representative of the American Jewish Committee, which has helped revive the Jewish community in Warsaw. You can ask about the phenomena the new law that bans any criticism of Polish behavior during the Nazi Holocaust and about the revival of Poland’s Jewish community, the tiny remnant of what was once some 3 million Jews?

Back to the hotel to rest. Then, prior to dinner, we will have a guest speaker from a Polish think tank who will help explain why Poland’s democracy is in retreat and why nationalism and populism are on the rise under a right-wing authoritarian government that has been praised by President Trump.

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. We can also ask how Poles who are against these views are coping with the situation.

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. During the day we will meet with a Polish member of the European parliament as well as journalists from Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading liberal newspaper. We will also have the opportunity to meet one of Poland’s elected representatives. Over dinner, we will talk with a well-known Pole who was among the leaders of the “Solidarity Movement” that successfully ended  Soviet rule and ushered in democracy.  He will share his perspective on what has changed.

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, who will also speak about the vibrant cultural life in the city.

Dinner suggestions to be provided, with many options available in central Krakow, including those which feature groups of Klezmer musicians, for which the city is famous. 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.

Time permitting we will first stop in 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 and restored through the efforts of Poland-based Norwegian singer Bente Kahan

Following Wroclaw, we crossing into Germany and pay a visit to Cottbus.  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 civil society leaders who have been opposing a neo-Nazi revival in the city. We will meet representative of the Cottbus Nazifrei movement to learn more about the reasons for this far right nationalist resurgence.

View of Cottbus, Germany

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

View of Berlin

Friday, September 28 – Berlin
In the morning we will tour of Berlin to include the old Jewish Quarter, Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, State Opera and more…

After lunch, we will meet with a Muslim-German member of the Bundestag (parliament) from the Green Party, who will discuss the challenges of integrating one million new Muslim migrants into Germany.

At dinner, we will meet a former Christian Science Monitor correspondent in Germany and Russia, who is also a much-published author and expert on Germany’s past, present and future. Overnight in Berlin. (B, D)


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 meet with journalists from Taggesspiegel, a longstanding Berlin daily, who can discuss current German politics, the rise of the far right AfD party, how Germans regard Trump and how they view the prospects for democracy in Europe.

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

But eat early, because we will be meeting back at our hotel for drinks with some young, German professionals and some former East Berliners, now civil society activists, who can explain why the far right does best in former East German regions.
Overnight in Berlin. (B)


Berlin is dynamic and youthful!

Sunday, September 30 – Berlin
Today we will 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 Syrian 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.

Over dinner, we will meet with a representative of Berlin’s large Jewish community (!) to discuss their concerns about a rise of new anti-semitism in the country, mainly from the immigrant community.

Overnight in Berlin. (B, L, D)


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 about Germany’s challenges in trying to assimilate two generations of Turkish Germans and absorbing a new wave of  hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria and other Arab countries. Hot topics in Germany are how to limit future immigration, whether there should be laws requiring immigrants to acculturate to German norms, and how to prevent the emergence of radical clerics preaching to new Muslim arrivals.

We will also be having a speaker before dinner from one of one of Germany’s leading think tanks, who can talk about how the German government fought back against Russian efforts at cyber-meddling in their society and elections – providing a vital lesson for those who want to strengthen democracy in Europe and in the USA.

Then comes our « Farewell Dinner » at which we can ruminate over everything we’ve seen and learned, or just over drinks. Overnight in Berlin. (B, D)


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!



* 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



* 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.