SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE JOURNEY (Part 9)
There were some observations made on our Journey, which do not fit into the narrative. In no order of importance.
1) Polish young people smoke way too much. They are clearly dependent upon American tobacco and help support our economy. Apparently the message of future health problems has not gotten through to them. When I say they smoke too much, it is very noticeable.
2) The roads in Poland, while not Third World, are not up to European standards. Potholes are the rule, not the exception. Roads are poorly marked, and extremely narrow. Driving across country in Poland is not fun. If we didn’t have a GPS, we might still be circling the Warsaw Airport.
3) Almost without exception, Polish streets and byways are clean. No litter. Very un European. Clean streets, clean sidewalks, clean cities. So much so that it was noticeable. An excellent example for the rest of Europe.
4) As in many Eastern European cities the Russians controlled after the war, the public housing – think drab cement buildings six or eight stories high –built by the Russians is exceedingly ugly and doesn’t fit with the older beauty of much of the Renaissance architecture.
5) Warsaw itself is amazing. To see photos of the completely leveled city (one monument has Eisenhower walking through the rubble) and then to see how painstakingly it has been rebuilt is remarkable.
6) There exists a great marketing opportunity for American purveyors of deodorant in Eastern Europe. One whiff is enough to let you know things could be a great deal better if Gillette and Dial marketed in these areas. This is not a joke, it really exists! I sat next to a Russian on the return flight. Yecch!
7) Restaurants like Rubenstein’s offering, “authentic Jewish cooking” shouldn’t have Roast Loin of Pork as the top item on their menus.
8) Polish food (except on Lot Airlines) is excellent. It is well prepared, reasonably priced and not like other European food.
9) Polish women are very attractive! Tall, slender and good looking.
10) One very funny event is worth retelling. At the Schindler Museum they sell oversized postcards at the gift shop. Two young men, obviously Asian, were looking at a card which showed the Hebrew alphabet. I heard one say “How can anyone read that?” I asked where they were from and was told Hong Kong. To which I asked, “your point is?” We all had a good laugh.
11) Poland is a land of monuments. Warsaw has one every 50 feet or so in the former Ghetto area commemorating the deportations. Every town has its monuments. You’d think that all the Polish people did after the War was to construct monuments.
12) Belzec is disturbing. The mound of earth in front of the monument cover the bodies of 500,000 in a mass grave. Exceedingly unsettleing! So too are the Empty Chairs Monument (like the memorial in Oklahoma City in the US) in Cracow’s former Ghetto.
13) The artwork and beauty of the Polish churches is fascinating. The cost of upkeep must be staggering. However, if you like religious art and admire great religious architecture, you’ll love Polish churches.
14) Friends have asked a simple question: “Did any of the docents or did any of the museums, ever mention the culpability of the Polish people to the destruction of the Jewish community?”
Unfortunately, the answer is “NO”. Didn’t happen. Poland is always treated as a victim in all cases. Nowhere is its complicity spoken of or shown. It’s not mentioned in museums. Facts are that the Poles, the Ukrainians and others in Eastern Europe were happy to go along to get along with the German extermination of the Jews. There is simply no denying this fact.
15) How can there be such a thing as a “holocaust denier”? The facts, the concentration camps, the remnants of what was done at the camps could never have been created just as a ruse. To even give these idiots the time of day is giving credence to a fool. And how Northwestern University retains one on its staff (the President of the University is Jewish) is purely ludicrous. However, in Northwestern’s defense, the jerk is not allowed to teach any classes. Too bad he had tenure before he expressed his stupidity for the entire world to see.
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