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.
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 - the Birkenau platform, from where Ala was transported to|
Ravensbruck camp in 1945. (?)