It is Wednesday September 27th and it is 2017. I simply forgot I hadn't altered my Phones time, so I had crept into Wednesday thinking I was working on what remained of Tuesday. It is late, I am tired but I have things on my mind. So while I can, I write! I never quite appreciated the magnitude of grief that can be brought to People. But now I have ventured upon a realisation. I have been to Chelmno and now know that nothing compares to that loss of life which has been interrupted by the intervention of others. Hitler interrupted the lives of 6,000,000 Jews of Europe and absolutely nothing will ever compare to the sense of grief this evokes.
The Irish are known for their melancholy nature but I am always upbeat, the glass is Always half full in my neck of the woods. For me too, no one has a monopoly over grief and this was brought to the fore a while ago as I managed an office staff. I listened as a Woman informed a fellow Female colleague that she had no need to grieve, she had only lost an Aunt, or someone not so immediate? Her reasoning being? She had lost her Mom the previous year and her Uncles Brother's Cousin, or whoever, the year before that. I felt quite aggrieved that anyone can impose their own sense of loss upon another so as to simply dismiss the fundamental grieving process owned by all and any People.
I clearly spelled out to her, that grief belongs to the individual concerned and she had no right to deny anyone the right to grieve in whatever capacity they chose and for whomever they had a grief over. I pointed out also that my own Mom's loss was, and until I began this journey, incomparable and no one else's could surely compare to my Moms. As I am never giving of what remains private to me, I will share this fact that in the space of x2 years my Mom had lost a Sister, her Dad, x2 Daughters and a Husband. Of course, these were my Aunt, my Granddad, both my Sisters and my Dad. But I had not been comparing my own grief then and until now was not prepared to compare anyone's sense of grief. How could I suggest grief, when there are Jews who know the meaning of this enormous grief we seek to add to the memory of The Holocaust. Each to their own!
However, that the magnitude of grief is felt now as I sit here wondering what can ever compare to the experience of those Jews left to reflect and grieve over The Holocaust, I am uneasy. I feel perturbed that while Simon Wiesenthal insists we should not look on The Holocaust merely statistically, how do I compare such an immense horror without recourse to numbers so devoid of all names. I have met and been introduced to so many People whose sense of grief bears no comparison to anything I could ever feel nor measure, even in all of History. But it appears it is incumbent upon those who seek, Always to Remember, Never to Forget, that such numbers as those which have been taken from us in The Holocaust, somehow insist on the calculation being made.
The overall assessment, which extrapolates such a criteria as is measured 6,000,000 times over with loss, grief and the horrible realisation of a terrible wrong, bears no comparison. That these Jews were taken from us and systematically interrupted from their own vibrant life, is an accusation of all that Humanity should stand for. I will get some rest now as Lodz awaits and I am supposed to be up in about 4 hours to breakfast before I begin journeying again. It appears my journey is endless. It also seems like sleep and rest have been removed from any equation I wish to make. Monday, I was travelling and awake for some 22 hours. It appears I have been on the go for 20 hours, and this was Tuesday??
I am fully awake? And I have taken my stroll to Centralna and I will have walked about 11 miles today and travelled 175 other Miles or so. As I am fully cognisant that while not all Jews suffered the same fate, all too few Jews of the 11,293,300 intended for destruction escaped the trawl of 6,000,000 innocent lives that were totally Destroyed. But of those who did Survive, they do not have the same regard or even disregard for their former neighbours as many would seem to hold. Each tale of Survival is different. Each story of those Survivors informs us of a familiar tale of intolerance from some of their neighbours and the warming sense of human dignity reaching out to save too few.
Brutality and atrocity was met by a Jew wherever they were bounded by the intolerance or indeed, the seeming indifference of all too many. However, what can be hidden in the terms of reference connected to the contribution 6,000,000 terrorised and destroyed Jews must bring to memory, is the attempts by many to save the few. In proportion though, the many 26,000 amongst all Nations, are far too few while the few Survivors are the remnant of far too many, 6,000,000 of whom were Destroyed. I am certain that perspective will be considered as I reach the Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre in Lodz though will be more amply exposed when I reach the Death Camp at Treblinka tomorrow. I am more certain of that exposure of grief which not only creeps up on me, unawares, it is a presence I feel constantly.
Lodz, it is clear, was fundamentally chosen as a centre of Jewish presence for the Ghettoisation, containment and eventual removal toward the Death Camps of the Warthegau's Jews. If we need to be pedantic in terms of Hitler's establishment of all x6 Death Camps, then they were established in German Occupied Poland. There is a play on words still, and while semantics have no responsible space to procure ownership of any part of The Holocaust, the word 'collaboration' shares a presence. Why is it then that we are prepared to accept a seeming collaborative effort with Hitler's germanising attempt to rename the City of Lodz and indeed its Ghetto.
We should in no way allow for the altering of the obvious Polish nature of a City so as to conform to a German insinuating accent. The Lodz Jews, and others who had lived in Lodz or were transported to Lodz, were Ghettoised in the Lodz Ghetto and died there, were Murdered there or were transported to their deaths elsewhere as Lodz Jews. The very nature of Hitler's attempt to eradicate Lodz Jewry should not reflect other than the very Jewish nature of Hitler's attempt to annihilate all of them as the Jewish inhabitants of the City of Lodz and then the Lodz Ghetto. Meanwhile, thoughts raging, it is essential for me that I focus on this day, seizing this moment and sizing the Marek Edelman Centre's ability to afford a dialogue to what was taken from Lodz Jewry.
To be more precise, the coming to terms with the murderous loss to Lodz Jewry. I am sitting here at the Marek Edelman Centre and I am looking across a Park which remembers the loss and the efforts of the some. The statue of Jan Karski is omnipresent gazing over the Park itself. The apparent mission here and vision that those who planned and instigated this worthy enterprise, an array of displays and focal points set before me, is well constructed and it has a resonance with the past that sweeps into our present! The attempt to add diversity to what lessons must be learned from The Holocaust past, is sure to shape the future for any organisation seeking to confront an unease with which Poland perceives The Holocaust.
The Dialogue Center
is an open, secular cultural institution acting beyond any political divisions, the primary purpose of which is to undertake educational, research and cultural activity including but not limited to:
1) Popularizing the heritage of different cultures,
2) Promoting multicultural and multiethnic legacy of Lodz, with the emphasis put on the Jewish culture,
3) Propagating the idea of tolerance and counteracting any signs of racism, xenophobia and lack of respect for people of different outlooks on the world, different backgrounds and cultures,
4) Undertaking educational activity in the scope of multiculturality for Polish and foreign communities,
5) Undertaking training and educational activity for children, the youth and the grown-up as well as organizing international exchange,
6) Running a library and an archive as well as building up various collections, especially those related to the Lodz Jewish community and the history of the Lodz Ghetto,
7) Carrying out projects commemorating the Lodz Jewish community,
8) Activities aiming at commemorating the Survivors and the Righteous and their families,
9) Popularising art works promoting the idea of multiculturality and multiethnicity,
10) Obtaining non-budgetary funds from national and foreign sources and using them for the purposes of statutory tasks.
The Marek Edelman Dialogue Center is the public cultural institution and education center, created on the basis of the multicultural and multiethnic past of Lodz, to discuss the history and its influence on today's life, with the emphasis on the Jewish culture, history and Polish-Jewish relations. An institution open towards the future, attractive for the local, national and international audience.
The Marek Edelman Dialogue Center is an institution that preserves the multicultural and historical heritage of Lodz through education, publishing, art projects and commemorative events, cooperating with many other institutions and organizations in Poland and abroad, recognized locally and internationally.
I commend the sterling efforts undertaken here as I would agree, those at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews measures with intricacy, the fate of 3,000,000 Polish Jews. Again though! I am visiting places in reverse order. Having visited Chelmno yesterday, I now visit the place so many of them were transported from, for their last time. Lodz itself, which expelled its Jewish Community to Chelmno, is close at hand. I will be amazed if any hint of a former Jewish presence greets me as I am amazed at Warsaw's almost complete lack of acknowledgement of its former resident Jews. The idea though that a dialogue, in part to Remember Marek Edelman and his Jewishness, is to be found here in Lodz is surprising. I am reminded now of a quote from Elie Wiesel and what is set before me confirms that Memory will be sustained by the efforts of more than those who write it.
"..Holocaust defies literature. ..describing an event ..we transmit ..its reflection. ..No one has ..right to speak for ..dead. ..story had to be told. In spite of all risks ..misunderstandings ..for ..sake of our children." Elie Wiesel.
What is more enlivening in this building is the careful tread of visitors whose efforts sift across an emotive space for those Survivors who venture here. All too many now no longer able to impart their truths for us. The concept of the space, which seeks to put in the lessons from the past so as to ensure our future, actually appears like an idealistic reality. I am aware of the ownership given to both Lodz and the Death Camps in Hitler's scheme of things. But I will now manage to alter course and change the definition I have often used to one which places ownership of Hitler's Death Camps, with him as it was he who established these Death Camps in occupied Poland, and I fully restore their ownership to Hitler and at his front door.
"..Letters From ..Ghetto is not just a love story ..but also history to which ..world remained indifferent. It is my personal ..internal protest ..closed in ..convention of motion theater." Kariny Gory.
I meet with Kariny Gory (Karina Gora) at the Centre and I find there are those looking for more ways to add toward the memory we all seek to add to. The Holocaust impressed upon Karina, who had utilised the love letters from Aljuche Izrael Orenbach (Lutek) to a Jewish girl he had met before Hitler's invasion of Poland, and this was Edith Blau. Their love story became a series of pen pal letters once the x2 became separated by Hitler's war. Lutek, a native of Tomaszow-Mazowiecki came from the same Town as does Karina, so her interest in producing this work was more than coincidental. The two, whose separation lasted without them meeting again, as Lutek was murdered in Treblinka and Edith was murdered in the Riga Ghetto, is as compelling as it is tragic.
"..yearning locked in ..words ..hope giving breath to say goodnight ..to greet ..morning ..monotonous days filled with fear ..where life and death are mixed in unity." Kariny Gory.
But love transcends all, and when literature has been deprived of an answer, Movement and Expression, which is what Karina's group brought to the Theatre, has ensured that memory is not alone and has another grasp at holding on. Here too, I am drawn to the statue of Jan Karski as it stares out over an obliteration process that physically left more Jews intact, within Lodz itself and more than Hitler would have demanded. Jan Karski himself evokes a reminder in us that too few like him persisted with letting the World know of a burgeoning route toward The Holocaust. The Catastrophe for all of European Jewry unfolded before his eyes and as it continued its rampage through our Historical consciousness, it remains as damnable, reprehensible and certainly accusatory for knowing it was known to the World of the time.
"..Lutek Orenbach and Edith Blau became ..pretext for my creative work on structuring their characters. ..to close ..time ..place and circumstances ..in ..Tomaszow space." Kariny Gory.
I wonder though, how would the impact upon this Centers efforts be, if it is to acknowledge the integrity of the past which could all too easily be affected by the arbitrary efforts to prevent the use of the word 'Collaboration'? This is a position which exposes the Centres efforts to re-ignite Polish Jewish relations even when collaborative efforts to add to Hitler's final resolve, and though only aimed at by some in Polish circles, it is widely known that some Poles were greatly involved in collaborating against their Jewish Community. Jewish Survivors know, for their part that luck in avoiding those who would collaborate against them is very pronounced and true. When there is an emphasis which appears to run counter to what certain elements of this Polish government wishes to alter, bleach or even deny, these would seem to impede your efforts:
"..to discuss the history and its influence on today's life, with the emphasis on the Jewish culture, history and Polish-Jewish relations."
and can there remain an independent view, free from the governments seeming 'revisionist' words and those fully amplified and untruthful implications. The Polish governments insinuation would surely alter those Polish efforts which sought to both save Jews from The Holocaust and also perhaps exonerate those who perpetrated many of the excesses History clearly acknowledges? I am keen to discuss this, and should it make any difference to the way History is written, it should be tackled everywhere. I have a wish to gain from the Center, and I will look more deeply to gain the insight into my search for further comprehension.
We must involve all those who know The Holocaust and from whichever perspective, and accept that in acknowledging the terrible wrongs done. To do so, we do a service to all in History and in Remembrance for the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews, we choose to remember them correctly. I know now I am tired as I have been travelling today for more than 14 hours. The train arriving at, and I forget the platform, is running 12, 17, 25, and then 57 minutes late. In my confusion, there is a Swiss guy, and in my tiredness I forgot to ask his name? While he lends me his support, as his Polish is perfect. At least I know the Train will arrive, eventually.
I am back at the Hotel, the walk is beginning to feel more wearisome and I have yet to prepare for what will be a most difficult day, Treblinka. Before I go though, I heard someone say it was a Jewish Festival around this time. I found this greeting and wish to share it with you all, even if it is against all principles held within agnosticism? So Chag Sameach! I know the Jewish People celebrate Sukkot and that this is meant to be a celebratory acceptance of God providing for his chosen People, the Israelites! This then to me is my concern, and it as if it was written in my deference to my own religious background. It is not meant to cause any offence to anyone whatsoever.
So when the Holocaust launched the Jews of Europe into a wilderness and all Jewish faith focused on their God's faithfulness to keep his promises to secure them, it is also to make them aware of the power of his presence. However, we saw 6,000,000 Jewish Men, Women and Their Children abandoned and brutally Murdered. This, I am afraid is what strikes me as I still see that stone to the memory of the Jews of Sokoly. It evokes a great anger in me that is rightly directed at a World standing on the sidelines as the trail of despair stretches 6,000,000 People long. And it is not just that what happened in Sokoly that frustrates my, but what happened to Tokele threatens my very understanding.
Then as we look to 6,000,000 Jewish innocents, at the brutality, because of the vile and indiscriminate hatred, and with the knowledge of knowing that those in power were accepting of all of this atrocity, and we realise the intolerable depth of despair inflicted upon these People and the scornful indifference observed by all 6,000,000 Jews as they are strewn through a wasteland. Forgive me if I am at pains to share what is not a condemnation of any faith, but it is a reason for me not to have one, and I am very tired?????
"..In spite of ..vast accumulating literature ..an abyss still lies between those who endured ..unimaginable and those who did not. ..Survivors themselves remain pendant between ..living ..and ..dead ..searching ..to pierce ..realms of each." Nora Levin.