Monday, June 4, 2012

The Trip to Tarnow take two..


Sorry for the email glitch.
Tarnow was a 1.5 hour train trip from Krakow and I wanted to travel there to connect to another family miracle.  Peter stayed behind in Krakow.  
After 20 minutes the train stopped on the tracks.  15 minutes later it's clear something is wrong.  15 minutes turns into an hour.  The man opposite me is broadly set, smells unshowered and undeodorized, as does the young man sitting adjacent to me.  Mr. Opposite  has short dark hair, which  is spiked with gel. He's wearing a white singlet and I can see his stinky arm hair poking out wet from his pudgy arms. It's hot in the carriage but warmer outside.  He sighs long heavy annoyed sighs at least once per minute, which makes it a long hour.

 It’s clear that I’m the only non-Pole and  a tourist .  I’m the only one in sneakers – an American thing I know, but I’m comfortable for the long walk ahead, so who cares what I look like?   Soon a large yellow engine with some kind of towing equipment arrives.  Only a few people crane out the windows to see what’s going on.  I’m taking photo’s and people stare at me, the American tourist.   Another hour later and 60 sighs from Mr. Opposite, the conductor passes through again and mutters something.  People start to empty out of the train and I follow.  Because it’s clear I’m the tourist, someone  says to me,  “We take another train”.    People grab their suitcases, shopping bags and  babies.   They move to the train door and jump off the step on to the stony ground adjacent to the tracks.  I help out an older lady who is at the door after I jump down.

 Suddenly my stomach plunges vertiginously  and I suck in a sharp breath to stop throwing up.  I’m shaking.  I look out at the hundreds of people ahead of me on the tracks. 
The prior day  we were in Auschwitz, and, I have not been able to write about the experience. Now, I'm here somewhere between Krakow and Tarnow on the railway tracks, and I feel God trying to get me to  imagine my Nanna and Papa as they are coaxed out of the railway carriages at Auschwitz, out of the wooden prisons on wheels,  full mostly of dead and the dying.  They themselves are  nearly dead  from starvation and dehydration as prior to being crammed into the airless carriages they had been marched 100kms from the Ghetto in Radom as part of the liquidation.   They lose each other again when the SS form them into the formidable selection lines .  Zdislaw is also with Papa.   By 1943 many Jews knew about the gas chambers.   "Goodbye  my husband..."


 
Auschwitz Birkenau - Ala left  here for Ravensbruck  in 1945 (?)

It is almost sinful to compare my train trip with the horror of arriving in Auschwitz, however, the most fortuitous things  seem to happen to me every day in Poland.  It's as if my grandparents who survived and their friends and the many relatives who did not, are whispering to me.... "Don't forget us...do not let us die in vain"..

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