Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Lovely Spring Morning in Warsaw

I went this morning to visit the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument. The Nazis reduced everything around here to rubble so there is not a lot left to monumentalize, but there is a bit of open park space and one modest proletarian-style statue. They say Hitler himself picked out the stone, envisioning a monument of a rather different sort. At the souvenir stand, you can buy Polish cookbooks in six different languages, and biographies of Chopin, along with severe accounts of the ghetto story. The guide, to her credit, did not spare the details: how the Nazis rounded all the Jews up into a ghetto (there was none before), and then undertook systematically to transfer them to Treblkina and their certain extinction--and how s saving remnant rose up and lost their lives in a final act of suicidal defiance. There is small bulletin-board-like display of archival photos, including one of the ghetto's Nazi commandant. "He was hanged," the guide said. A voice muttered, "too bad they could only do it once."

"You are smiling," the guide said to me as I left. "You must be in a good mood." Sure I was in a good mood. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky; the temperature was around 70F and there was just a touch of a breeze. And every day above ground is a good day.

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