a mysterious country fueled by the consequences of the past and the promise of a redemptive future. signs warning citizens of the penalty of racism scatters public transportation. the worn cracked buildings stand tall as if they are shouting we have survived. we are still standing. the roads tell a different story. as if the pavement would never want to discuss the events it experienced, the people it endured or the pain it witnessed. this was krakow. my first stop in poland. it was here that i knew i was no longer in the convenient world of western europe. during our stay, i took a deep breath and embraced the reality of the concentration camps – auschwitz i and auschwitz ii.
and although this would be the perfect platfom to display all of the images i took of that day, i am not going to post but a few. something inside me feels wrong to blog for the world the horrors that i was able to photograph while walking in a single file line of tourists. not because i don’t think its important for the world to see and remember the reality of what occurred – because i do – but my photography doesn’t capture enough for it to present an accurate representation of the truth. no movie, no photo, no memoir will ever be enough to respectfully and thoroughly explain the events of that time. and so i am not going to start trying with my photos. i am going to allow my experience of seeing it in person be enough for me to be reminded. and i highly encourage others to remind themselves on their own time.
warsawza spoke of a different story. it spoke of a modern we have moved forward time when the sorrow from the past was a stepping stone into the future. in this city, i did not photograph very much. perhaps i was too involved in the complex shopping centers, the european cuisine or the socialization of the city over cards and drinks.
as my sister and i stepped onto our plane to sweden, we knew that poland was one of our favorite places. the people were so kind, so welcoming, so proud and so understanding of why we were there. there is a silent understanding that we have traveled out of our way to specifically witness what occurred here. the food was also a hidden treasure as my expectations for polish cuisine was below par. and the cities we visited were honest in a way that other cities in the world aren’t. its as if poland is the friend in your life that says hey, i am not proud of my past. but i am not that person anymore. give me a chance and we will be great friends.
to which i say, you will always be my friend, poland.
johanna’s first look from outside auschwitz
you smell everything that the rumors told you would.
from the watchtower
jewish schoolgirl on trip from israel
going down the stairs in the head nazi watchtower
people warned me that i wouldn’t eat afterwards. or that i wouldn’t be able to talk about it afterwards. interesting how one copes with seeing evil. our bus home was full of mixed responses. some stoic, others laughing, a few quiet, a couple wanting to talk about it. for me, i like to discuss the logistics or the psychology of it. as if i am able to solve the psychological reasons that it occurred. after i try to analyze and diagnose for weeks, that is when i usually lose. and my human emotions win.
a few snaps of warsaw with my phone:
i love your words & photographs. thank you for sharing a bit of your experience, bethany! x