Auschwitz: Eradicating History (Part I)

Oświęcim is located outside of Krakow. It was the site of a Nazi Concentration-Extermination Camp. Over 1.1 million people, 1 million Jews, died there. The Caylor-Browns spent the afternoon of July 5, 2019 in this hallowed and somber locale in the Polish countryside. In 2019, you would… wait, what? You’ve never heard of this Nazi camp? Wait a second. Do I have the correct place? Well, yes, I do …. I guess perhaps you don’t know that the German Nazis enjoyed changing names of places as mental subjugation to those they conquered. It’s to subdue people into forgetting who they were. It was a way of erasing their existence: art, music, history, literature, the name of a town, their language …. You name it. Oświęcim is the Polish name for Auschwitz. The German Nazis renamed Oświęcim to Auschwitz.

Birkenau_Auschwitz

I have to divide up The Caylor-Brown Polish Experience 2019 into two parts. It’s the best way to do Auschwitz and the importance of memorials justice.

Auschwitz

Birkenau Extermination Camp July 5, 2019

 

Several countries, Russia, Austria, and Germany (Nazis) have tried to erase Poland from the world: Literally. When people do this, they eradicate art (sculptures, STATUES), literature, music, and language. They wish to ERASE your identity …. your heritage. While we were at the Schindler Museum I took a photo of a photo where Nazis were toppling a provincial / national Polish statue attempting to erase history. Folks, since the dawn of civilization, groups have done unnecessary sometimes horrific atrocities. No person, city, state, nation, or empire is blameless. That doesn’t mean we erase the art, literature, and heritage from the past. Madame Marie Curie was born in Warsaw. Her birth home is now a museum which we toured. Poland / Warsaw was under the rule of the Russian Empire. When she was born in Warsaw in 1867, it was AGAINST THE LAW for her to read or write in Polish: Her family’s native language! How ridiculous , right? Who wants to erase languages in 2020? Y’all this rhetoric of deleting history and the social upheaval is happening right now here in 2020 in the United States. My birth-town, Dalton, Georgia is fighting to keep a statue of Confederate General Johnston who saved Dalton from being burned to the ground by General Sherman from being moved. As with the Nazis, appeasement is never the answer. It leads to removal/eradication.

Krakow-statue

Nazis remove history in Krakow.

Johnston

General Johnston’s statue in Dalton, GA

 

However, we know it’s just not in Dalton. It’s all around this country. We are the UNITED States of America, yet, since 2008, there has been an unfortunate movement to divide us. Get rid of George Washington, Elihu Yale, Christopher Columbus, Cervantes (once a slave to the Turks), Robert E. Lee!  Once again, a group of people trying to change/control another group of people to give up their existence isn’t new.

Allow me to use a one-sided,  abridged yet TRUTHFUL (proven time after time in history) monologue of how groups of people have controlled people during the past 100 years.  I could use Russians to Poles in 1800, but that is too distant from my understanding. However, I am using 20th Century Poland and the Nazis in Europe.  I have listened to and researched primary sources who lived through the Nazi time:  my grandparents, my Nanny who saw actual photographs of people wheeling the bodies of exterminated Jews in wheel barrows, I walked through Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, I actually heard live and in person, Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s step sister, tell of the atrocities of Nazi extermination camps, I have trod the grounds of the infamous Auschwitz, and I have read the stories of Polish people from Warsaw, Gdansk, and Krakow Poland who experienced the horrors of intended extinction.

Nazis to Jews & yes, the Polish people as well:

You are not worth anything. You are the reason for our problems. We are better than you. You need to bow down to us. Everything you have erected as a group of people must be taken down. Surrender your armaments. You need to surrender your businesses. You need to surrender your riches. You need to surrender your freedom. You need to surrender your homes. We will provide you a home in certain areas. You try to escape from this area and you will be killed. We are taking you from this guarded area to a place where you can live at peace (a lie… concentration / extermination camps)…

FINAL INTENT: 
Continue reading

Kraków, Poland

As their historical readings for 4th grade, Sean, Carter, and Ammon had been reading multiple books from the Holocaust: The Hiding Place, Irina’s Children & Anne Frank. Sean had read Schindler’s List by himself then he paraphrased / abridged, then taught Ammon and Carter some events that had happened with Jews and the Polish people in Krakow, Poland. Shindler’s Factory is almost 2 miles from downtown Krakow. By the time we finished the logistics of our Polish Summer, we knew we wanted to spend the most of our time in Krakow. We also decided to save Krakow for the end of our Caylor-Brown Polish Experience 2019. It was not just the engaging history and charming Polish architecture we were looking forward to in Krakow, but the geographic region is very much like Southeast Tennessee too: rolling hills, low-lying mountains, and lots of summer-green.

The 21st Century high-tech Polish passenger trained had taken 4 hours to get from Gdansk to Krakow. We had been anticipating Krakow for 2 weeks. The greenery of the Polish fields and the demure mountains of southern Poland pulled us like a magnet into the Krakow-Glowny Railway Station.

train_krakow
One of those adventurous, engaging European train rides from Gdansk to Krakow- July 3, 2019

By taxi, we found our wonderful apartment (full apartment – huge Great Room -living room/dining area/kitchen , hallway, bathroom w/clothes washer, and huge bedroom … like $75/night). The Caylor-Browns were neither disappointed with the apartment nor the city of Krakow.

Krakow_kitchen
You can tell by the size of the full kitchen kitchen how large the apartment is.

Milk Bar (s)– large cities in Poland have popular restaurants called Milk Bars. It’s cafeteria style and sells the same foods (perhaps a SLIGHT CHANGE of menu taking out some breakfast foods around noonish) all day long starting at 8 AM. If you find yourself at a Milk Bar in Poland be ready for lots of potatoes, beets, peas & carrots

I think we ate here at least once a day for 7 days.. well, almost. My most memorable moment was when, I think, a native Krakow couple was eating at this Milk Bar. The mentally disabled gentleman of the couple walked up to our table, grabbed a fork, and ate my remaining potatoes from off my plate!

The City of Krakow (associate the paragraph with the below photos)

I am really looking forward to returning to the St. Mary’s Basilica. It has been my favorite building of worship in Europe since I started traveling in 1984. I’ve only felt this spiritual connection one other time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, but I was only there for an hour. I was in Krakow for a week. Each morning after my morning jog (finishing up around gulp!….. 6:30 AM!! Sunrise was about 5AM), I entered the basilica, knelt, and prayed. They weren’t just rote-memorized prayers, but Spirit-lead… everything from my family, to distant friends, to the Polish people, to world peace, to Milk Bars! LOL I really felt a spiritual connection while in the basilica. Wawel Castle is on a hill overlooking the Vistula River. The castle (begun sometime around 1038) sits over rock caverns one of which was the home of the legendary Wawel Dragon. The bronze, fire-breathing dragon is a leviathan of enjoyment. It breathes fire about every 5-10 minutes.

 
 

There was a lot to do in Krakow proper, but I want to venture to some nearby attractions with you all: The Wieliczka Salt Mines and the Oskar Schindler Factory (Krakow Museum). The salt mine has 26 subterranean caverns. One of which is a chapel to worship. All the walls and sculptures in the salt mine are made of salt. If you go to Krakow for any length of time, you must take a tour of this mine: Well worth the money.

Huge Chapel in salt mine

From 1939 to 1944 Oskar Schindler, an official member of the Nazi Party, had an enamel factory in Krakow. Between the Krakow Ghetto ( walking distance to the Factory) and the Plaszow Work Camp, Mr. Schindler saved 1,200 Jews from extermination. In 1962, he was declared a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official agency for remembering the Holocaust. According to his wishes, he was buried on Mt. Zion , Jerusalem. Thanks be to God for such human beings as Oskar Schindler.

Schindler’s Desk & Schindler’s Secretary’s Desk . One of only 2 preserved 1940 rooms of the museum.
 

Two more things:

Nazis topple Krakow/Polish History

1) There is an underground museum in the Market Square. It commemorates Middle Ages Krakow. We were not allowed to take photos, so I will allow Trip Advisor to give you all a tour. 

2) Several countries, Russia, Austria, and Germany (Nazis) have tried to erase Poland from the world: Literally. When people do this, they eradicate art (sculptures, STATUES), literature, music, and language. They wish to ERASE your identity …. your heritage. While we were at the Schindler Museum I took a photo of a photo where Nazis were toppling a provincial / national Polish statue attempting to erase history. Folks, since the dawn of civilization, groups have done unnecessary sometimes horrific atrocities. No person, city, state, nation, or empire is blameless. That doesn’t mean we erase the art, literature, and heritage from the past. We simply need not repeat man’s inhumanity to man. 

I hope you have enjoyed this Krakow blog. If you happen to be following chronologically, you are approaching my final blog of Poland. It will be a blog covering our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I write the final words of this blog, I am already very emotional in my soul with its preparation. I am praying that I will do the experience of Auschwitz justice and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.