S: POLAND 1992 -1994
BC: Ghetto Heroes Monument, Warsaw
1: The joke was always "All roads lead to Nowy Swiat", the main drag that ends at Old Town and the only section of WARSAW with pretty buildings. On the left is a statue of Zygmunt III, the king who moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596. On the right is the Royal Castle --- like everything in the city, it was reconstructed post-1945.
2: WARSAW: The view from the Marriott Hotel was the monstrosity known as the CULTURAL PALACE, a gift from the Soviet Union.
3: STARE MIASTO: The “Old Town” was reconstructed exactly from pre-war photos so it has interesting architecture and a festive feel. The rest of WARSAW, leveled during WW II, was erected in soviet style -- boxy concrete masses, drab and ugly.
4: Pre-war photo of the Great Synagogue. A glass office building now sits on the site. The bldg next door houses ghetto artifacts. | The ghetto prison. | Entrance Way to the Jewish Cemetery made from smashed headstones. | Lazienki Palace, Warsaw. | WARSAW skyline eclipsed by the Marriott Hotel.
5: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with a two man honor guard. Below left is the only remaining remnant of the Warsaw Ghetto Wall, two blocks from the main train station. Below right is a beautiful & unusual tombstone.
6: Cathee & Josephine at Marie Curie's Birthplace. | Dinner at Lila Weneda, again! | Yeah for the translators who became our friends. | Another shopping trip.
7: First day on the job included a briefing at the American Embassy. See their awful signs. We were told to bring our passports as ID, but one of guys forgot; he was able to use his Amex instead. “Don’t leave home without it” is a truism! To make up for the US’ tacky sign, here’s a nice one.
11: LUBLIN: A short walk from the city center is MAJDANEK, a concentration camp that operated from October 1941 until July 1944. Below is the view from the single window in the ‘autopsy’ room -- where gold was extracted from the gassed corpses’ teeth. Opposite page is the entrance to the camp. At the extreme end of the camp is the mausoleum, a dome covering an enormous pit of ashes.
12: MAJDANEK: This camp was so intact it could be made operational within a day – the Russians advance happened too quickly for the Nazis to destroy the place. Above is a bathhouse/gas chamber with blue streaked walls, a telltale sign of Zyklon B. On the right is the chimney/crematorium that housed 5 ovens. Next door is the warehouse called 'Canada', an alias for a place of riches. Bottom right is the dreary town of LUBLIN. The opposite page is more of the desolate camp landscape with watch towers and barb wire. The memorial with the none-too-subtle bird motif was built by the prisoners.
14: KRAKOW is one of the last remaining Renaissance Cities in the world, unharmed during WW II because it was the seat of the Government General. Loved, loved, loved this place! Photos are of St. Mary's Cathedral and the Cloth Market. This city was Schindler’s stomping ground so I went looking for his house. I found the street, but it was before the movie debuted and there was no plaque to identify which building was his.
18: MILA 18 Memorial.
19: Street address MILA 18 was the site of the bunker that served as headquarters for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The photos were taken on the 50th anniversary of the uprising. Polish & Israeli dignitaries laid wreaths at many keys sites in the former ghetto, including at the MILA Memorial Mound. The pretty calla lilies were a gift from Yitzhak Rabin.
20: The UMSCHLAGPLATZ was the Warsaw Ghetto's railway from which Jews were transported to Treblinka & Auschwitz. Originally, the building next door was a hospital. The Nazis converted it to a staging location so they could simply march the prisoners around the corner once the cattle cars were ready.
21: Formal ceremony opening the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. VP Al Gore attended. Above is the famous sculpture of ghetto fighters by Rappaport. I'm standing at the MILA 18 memorial. On the left is a sewer cover -- the sewers were a means of escape for a lucky few. The anti-semitic graffiti on a couple of remaining synagogues in Warsaw was painted over prior to the anniversary & onslaught of tourists.
22: GADANSK: Formerly Danzig and a member of the Hanseatic League which explains why it looks like Amsterdam. WW II started here. Although badly damaged in the war, a section of the city was built to mimic the original buildings. It’s a colorful vibrant recreation -- enhanced by the 3-day music festival/street fair that was in progress when we arrived. Mark, my colleague from the bank, arrived early in the day, got a hotel, scoped out the place and made dinner reservations!
24: GADANSK: SOLIDARITY MONUMENT. The small office displayed framed photos of Soviet tanks rolling through city. These were supplemented with the guard’s worn stack of personal photos to show us.
25: Beautiful SWIETA LIPKA in the north of Poland. It was a picture perfect day to enjoy the gorgeous Baroque church with its massive pipe organs.
27: AUSCHWITZ'S infamous "Work Will Make You Free" Gate.
28: BIRKENAU: There are wooden bunkers and stumps of burned bunkers as far as the eye can see. The size of the place is shockingly enormous. At the furthest end of the enclosure are the partially destroyed crematoriums.
30: The AID contingent included Ken, Beth, Ruth, Cathee, Chris, Bill, Mark, Jo and others over time. Below is the Bud Bank staff. At work, you could always tell if you were in good graces by the food and drink that you were served!