1) The Old Synagogue.
I have arrived in Cracow and it is a lovely City. The Ghetto has long ceased to exist, though through its establishment, the Jews of Cracwo faced annihilation. I won’t trouble You with the mundane routine of an everyday life. Wake. Get up. Shower. Breakfast. Go out. Get Lunch. Go forward. Get back. Dinner. Go out. Get back and Night all. This will be an exacting next few days and my concentration will need to preserve energies for what lies ahead. So take it as read, these days will have content as similarly described. During those periods while I am out, marked by Discoveries, Events, Journeys and Captions of the remnants of Jewish Cracow and tragically, for those Jews of Europe, the more than 1,100,000 confined within Auschwitz and Birkenau, I will do my utmost to describe to and for you. First Impressions.
2) The Tempel Synagogue.
The City seems hardly ravaged by what Hitler and Germany imposed upon it during the period of The Holocaust. It is somewhat unfair to have described Poland as a ‘graveyard’, because there is so much beauty, elegance and grandeur to the Country. But what Hitler must have seen, after the initial Victory over a deceived Nation, is the prospect that was not merely more land for his Lebensraum, but there would be a direct confrontation with The Jews of The Settlement. There existed a life blood of World Jewry, Learned, Educated and Spiritual that had spread its Jewish Culture to the far reaches of the World.
3) The Remuh Synagogue.
For Hitler though, with well over 3,000,000 Jews residing within Poland, there was an immediate assault placed upon the integrity of all of Polish Jewry. And so it began! I have a sense, talking to some Polish people, and they are as warm and as friendly as you would expect, that they are living in a shadow cast by the last World War and perhaps the threat of further War. They see what has happened within the Ukraine! They see tensions brewing in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and they are mindful of their Russian neighbour. This Historical consciousness is not just what Hitler imposed upon them, not even what the terms of The Holocaust means to them, but it is a direct threat Russia is well versed in.
There is the sense of that newer threat escalating, and it is the exact same awakening to a threat which Poland faced from Russia before. Some see that Russia is wanting to re-establish its Iron Curtain. They are suspicious of Russia, and while some are caught between whom they fear most, accept least or are confused intentionally by, Germany and Russia are well matched in the psyche of the Polish People.
The Polish People are presented with a desire to face their past and move forward alongside those of their former enemies. I will do my utmost to present a Picture of them which represents how they reside alongside the greatest Catastrophe ever to face all Humanity, The Holocaust. The picture is clear, though muddied by an experience which leaves them to deal with their own losses during the same period. Poland lost 3,000,000 lives on top of 3,100,000 Polish Jews Murdered in The Holocaust. There are people the World over who will only see joy and celebration in this picture as they continue to deny the Truth of The Holocaust. I present to you a Picture to illustrate what I mean!
What they will not observe is what has been lost and what has been taken away. A picture freezes a moment in time and the myriad thoughts that are not presented go spiralling out of control as the observer remains blissfully unaware of what is fully presented here. That too is true of all those Photos, as we witness the procession of People heading toward their own Destruction. Look at every single plate of The Auschwitz Album and see, unawares to a History unfolding, ordinary People exposed to a Catastrophe that is about to consume them wholly. This is not limiting in the imagination that presents itself to us all.
The Parent looking fondly on all they have achieved, a Child, a Son, a Daughter, soon to be taken from us, soon to pass from us, soon to be Murdered. These are all before us even if we do not recognise it. There are the Couples who have set out on their journey not fully knowing what to expect. They are relieved to still be together. They have arrived at the place they felt would be theirs. They look on and we see their moment knowing it will soon be their last. All this in the shape of a Picture which History will present and which will hold an interpretation for the many who will look without knowing eyes. Only those who look out from the Picture will know what it is they have lived and left behind!
I am troubled by these images. Are they aware that they have been captured in time and that time will forever remember them? We have come this way, and we are here but once and in that period, in the legacy that we leave behind, We too are remembered. For the Jews of The Holocaust, all too many of them have been lost to a force so destructive, all is obliterated. We can live but one life and it is better to have lived than not at all. But equally, it is better to have lived the life destined to us, fated for us and with a certain knowledge we can only be who we are. We have but one chance to be that person, and in my work to remember the Jews of The Holocaust, part of me is captured by that ideal.