Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Poland for the day

I accompanied Diane on her roots tour to two towns where her two grandmothers came from.

There was a lot of driving and hunting for out of the way places. Poland has much less in terms of markers and maps available for Jewish sites. the most one can hope to see is a Jewish cemetary, site of a former synagogue, and maybe the memorial place which in Lithuania is the killing place.

getting lost can have its rewards. Asking for directions to a 7 religion cemetery in Suwalki, Poland, serendipity struck and the old man we asked for directions was a worker on its stone wall years ago and wanted to reminisce about when he had to redo a part of the wall in the Turkish section because he put their moon symbol upside down by mistake.

in Suwalki we found a killing place memorial in in some trees on a hill. It took some looking to find the right path. The last 100 m were not drive able, they required a walk on grazed land, through cow paddies  and  cows with engorged udders and a woman collecting sorrel.

...a visit to yet another place where thousands were shot and burned in pits. 7000 Jews from a town of 70,000 where Jews had lived for 130 years. now there are none. And a gnawing, sad feeling every time.

Stork, the national bird of Lithuania. This nest with fledglings was on a road where we made a
wrong turn. Apparently they are a nuisance because they eat so much, especially frogs.
Our guide went inside to ask directions and was told the house had belonged to Jews.

Park in Suwalki, Poland

Suwalki, Poland is birthplace of a number of renowned artists according to the tourist map, including Polish film director Andrzej Wajda.

Pictured is the site of the old synagogue. 
There was no plaque or marker. 
The more I think about our visit to Suwalki, the more upset I become by the lack of attention of this seemingly elegant city to the Jewish population who built this city and lived here.

In a park, next to town hall, there is a new, large map to welcome tourists. it is very slick and 
professionally done. It shows the location of many churches with cross symbols.
there was not a single Star of David on the map. nothing to mark a single Jewish site for this city that thousands of Jews built over more than one hundred years. I looked again.

There was nothing to indicate where Suwalki's many synagogues may have been. 
Or show where the surviving Jewish school building stood.
We need not have had such wild goose chases in Suwalki.
The Jewish School should have had a plaque.
The Jewish cemetary with 32,000 Jews and it's wailing wall made from discarded ancient grave markers should have been available for people to visit.
Instead, the Jewish cemetery had a locked gate, broken bottles, and a a sign that said only "key available at town hall,".  so we went to town hall......and town hall had no idea where the key might be."someone" had changed the lock two weeks earlier.
No offer to inquire further.
no indication the key would be looked for.

Suwalki, wake up. 
Where is the spirit of Solidarnosc?


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