No (attempted) witty title today. No photos either. A sombre and sobering experience demands a blog entry in keeping.
I'm sure everyone has heard of Oskar Schindler, hero of Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, later made famous in film, by Spielberg, as Schindler's List. Well, his original enamelware factory in Krakow still stands and several years ago was turned into a museum, detailing the Polish occupation between 1939 and 1945.
It's a long, harrowing experience, well with the 30 minute queue for tickets and once inside the crowds seem to disapate and it wasn't crowded at all. The museum is a linear timeline of the Nazi occupation of Krakow, punctuated in the midst by Oskar Schindler's office with its original artifacts.
The museum is a masterful piece of storytelling. Not just the usual scattered artefacts with occasional video as befits so many museums. This one really conveys the feeling of life in Krakow for the population, which was 25% Jewish. For example when it enters the time in 1941 when the ghetto is walled off then the museum changes to a walkway between the huge concrete 'tombstone' slabs that constituted the wall. Later in a section on the Plaszow concentration camp you find yourself walking along a stark white rock floor between fences of barbed wire. Often appropriate audio would accompany these dramatic changes of scenery. No punches were pulled in the displays either and the unwary could easily find themselves looking at authentic period photographs of multiple executions or mass graves.
The stark reality of life for both the average Polish citizen and Polish Jews was borne out vividly and discomfortingly.
How can man treat his fellow men in such a way? But, certainly early on before real physical persecution occurred it was scary to simple replace the word 'Jew' with 'Muslim' and have a real relevance for today, particularly when British reporters are referring to immigrants as cockroaches and displaying cartoons of them as vermin. Has mankind moved on at all in the last 75 years?
And with all the horror and persecution one would expect the Jewish people, more than anyone, to understand the need for tolerance in this world and yet Palestine still is repressed.
And don't get me started on a leader of the free (sic) world who isn't prepared to condemn neo-Nazis.
I need to rant now because tomorrow we go to Auschwitz. I may not have the words.