Warsaw – June 16 – day 1.5

To all you dads out there – happy dad’s day.  For me (and my dad) Father’s Day is extremely special. I was his first gift – born oh those many years ago on Father’s Day. Our tradition is to wish each other a happy birthday on Father’s Day. For those of you who are wondering – I sent him a text early this morning and then phoned from Poland. If you can, have you called your father today?

Last summer while in Warsaw, I never left the hotel the conference was in except to go to dinner almost every night. The most I saw of Warsaw was on our last evening in Poland when we all went to dinner int he old city.  This year, we are staying a short walk away.  Today, a visit to the Polin Museum was on our list.

My luggage was delivered last night, and I slept, so all was well with the world (well my little piece of it anyway) this morning.  Marek and I went walking through the old city (Stary Miasto).  It’s really so charming. There’s no telling what lurks around the corner.

We walked to the Polin Museum, arriving just before our scheduled English tour.  The Museum is truly amazing. Our guide was nice, but her choice of words when describing Jewish history, while diplomatic, was misleading and put a gloss on Jewish history which was out of place. It’s really interesting hearing that the Jews decided to leave Spain and go to Poland, or that, in for example Krakow and Kazimierz, the Jews chose to live outside the Krakow city walls.  The tour was a 2 hour walking tour, with a lot of listening. There were so many words, at some point I just tuned out. I highly recommend the Museum. Maybe a better way would be to go through the core exhibit, reading the story boards, etc, at one’s own pace and then coming back for a tour to fill in gaps. The story boards are extremely well done.DSC09884

We walked and walked. All told by the time we got back to the hotel we had walked about 15,000 steps – thank you FitBit for that information.

On the way back to the hotel we passed by the remnants of the Warsaw ghetto. It was interesting seeing signs embedded in the pavement that told us where the walls stood.DSC09896.JPG

I was very moved, to the point of tears at the Museum when we were walking through the area devoted to the history of the area from September 1, 1939 through the war. It’s the other part of the balance of the camps on one side and what happened to the people before they were sent to the camps, or who never got there.

This evening, at dinner with Marek and one of our researchers who lives in Poland, the researcher asked which of the Polish cities I liked best. I didn’t know how to answer, so I replied honestly. Warsaw and Krakow are beautiful, as a city not ravaged by the war, Krakow like Przsemysl has an incredible beauty as a medieval city. Small towns and villages and the countryside are breathtaking. Warsaw in its reconstructed and renovated state has a distinctly poignant beauty, but I can’t get away from the memory of war and death and extraordinary tragedy. I see it in the streets and feel it in the stones we walk on. On the one hand, I wish I could forget and ignore what transpired, on the other hand, I’m glad that I can’t. It all needs to be remembered and not repeated. Not here, not anywhere.

 

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