Untethered through Warsaw, Poland
Untethered, I wander through Poland, starting with Warsaw. I return home with the best souvenir, perspective.
Reality was too painful for me. Nine days after my father left his physical body, I booked a trip to see where he lived as a child, as a young man, after he survived the Holocaust in Poland. As a young girl, I escaped into books. As an adult, I escape to other worlds.Traveling has proven to be an antidote for sadness.
My friend Hanna picked me up at the Warsaw airport. Every act of unconditional love truly echoes in eternity of the heart and I will never forget the kindness she showed me.
I choose the Dom Literatury Hotel for two simple reasons:I was told the location was superb and they have a library. Relaxing with books, there is nothing better in my world. From my room, I could see the Warsaw Castle Square, Old Town and the Vistula River.
Here is the view from my hotel window. I loved to watch the light changing as day moved into night so I kept photographing it at different times of the day.
Walking through Old Town on my first evening was a magic night filled with a deep, dark, rich, blue sky. I love the variety of restaurants in the square where everyone walks. Some decorated with twinkling white lights, others with a mixture of colors.
In the morning, I walked a short distance and found this cafe with about twenty types of fresh bread to choose from. I fully understand now why my father always loved fresh bread for as long as I can recall. Everywhere I go in Poland, the bread is delicious. He was denied all but a morsel of bread when he was in the eight forced labor camps during the war. I remember how he would stop by Bea’s Bakery in Tarzana on Friday nights and he’d pick up a rye bread, sliced regular, with seeds. No thin slicing!
Then, eerily, just as in Israel multiple times, I heard the sound of sirens while everyone bowed their heads in silence. Volunteers were giving out paper daffodils – a symbol of remembrance for those who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The campaign is organized jointly by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Rising Museum to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In 2013, we mark the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which began on April 19, 1943. This was the first urban uprising in Nazi-occupied Europe; which was a symbolic act, given the impossibility of its military success. I was moved to tears by the girls handing out the daffodils, by being in Warsaw during this remembrance day and thinking of my father.
It was an unequal fight with armed combatants from the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military League against the SS, Wehrmacht, the German Security Police and auxiliary units. This was when the Germans razed the Ghetto to the ground, burning down house after house. Rather than surrender to the Germans, a group of several dozen fighters committed suicide in the bunker at Mila 18 St. Another handful escaped as the Ghetto was burning, through the sewers.
I flashback to reading Mila 18 when I was a little girl in the two bedroom, one bath home I shared with my three brothers, sister, father and grandmother. In my roll-away bed, I’d hang a flashlight late at night in the book case of the living room where I slept, so I could read at all hours.
Daffodils are linked to the figure of Mark Edelman, the last commander of the Jewish Combat Organization. Every year, he would lay a bouquet of yellow flowers, often daffodils, at the Monument of the Ghetto Heroes.
As I left early in the morning to leave for The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, I spotted fresh bread delivered to the hotel. Fresh bread always reminds me of my father.