black and white
I ran to the Church of route Holy Cross to visit Chopin’s Heart, where I spent a few quite moments wondering around the church, and in particular visiting Chopin’s Heart. There is a strange story to that. He was worried about being buried alive, so when he died he wanted his heart removed and sent to Warsaw, which was done. So it now rests inside a pillar inside the church. I felt a little bad wondering around a church in my sweaty running gear – but at least I removed my cap.
The rest of Chopin is buried in Pierre Lachat in Paris (where I visited in 2005).
Mila 18, the location of the underground bunker where most the the ghetto uprising was orchestrated from is the grave of hundreds of resistant fighters during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It is a difficult place to talk about, but it is an important remember of human suffering and the will to survive.
The plaque reads:
Grave of the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising built from the rubble of Mi?a Street, one of the liveliest streets of pre-war Jewish Warsaw. These ruins of the bunker at 18 Mi?a Street are the place of rest of the commanders and fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization, as well as some civilians. Among them lies Mordechaj Anielewicz, the Commander in Chief. On May 8, 1943, surrounded by the Nazis after three weeks of struggle, many perished or took their own lives, refusing to perish at the hands of their enemies. There were several hundred bunkers built in the Ghetto. Found and destroyed by the Nazis, they became graves. They could not save those who sought refuge inside them, yet they remain everlasting symbols of the Warsaw Jews’ will to live. The bunker at Mi?a Street was the largest in the ghetto. It is the place of rest of over one hundred fighters, only some of whom are known by name. Here they rest, buried as they fell, to remind us that the whole earth is their grave.
If you want to read an excellent book on the subject, I highly recommend the novel of the same name written by Leon Uris.
Many of my recent posts have been about Warsaw in World War 2. The war is remembered wherever you go. They are determined to never forget what happened, and certainly they should not forget. It is recovering, and I think perhaps that it will never recover. And I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. Never ever forget.
If you have read the book “Schindler’s Jews” or seen the movie “Schindler’s List” directed by Stephen Spielberg, you would have heard of Schindler’s factory. Schindler managed to save many Jewish people towards the end of world war 2 by having then declared as essential workers in his factory – even though the factory was, for practical purposes, producing very little.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting Schindler’s factory, but while it was a history of the factory and of Schindler’s work it was far more than that. It gave an introspective history of Krakow in World War 2, and especially of the Jewish people that were confined to the ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland. An enlightening and sobering visit.
We only visited the factory on our second visit to Krakow, but if you are in the city I would highly recommend that you take a visit to the factory to learn move of its history.
The windows are filled with portraits of survivors.
The main factory gates
In my previous post I shared a photo of some old and decaying shuttered doors. I took this photo on the same street in Aegina – just a few houses down. This window tells a completely different story. It is wide open, sparkling clean, and telling a completely different story. This one is of life and activity, not death and decay. It almost balances it, doesn’t it?
There is a strange beauty in decay, and these shuttered windows are no exception. I took this pic somewhere in Aegina Town in Greece, I can’t tell you much about them, but I find them beautiful, and I’m sure that if I listened closely enough I would find a story worth listening to. But I prefer to make up my own story, wondering what was, and what could have been.
The old islands are full of stories.