There was no shortage of tour options available out of Warsaw and Krakow, but we opted to figure out on our own how to get there. There were moments of inevitable tension as we stood on the wrong train platform time and again, beginning before dawn and battling the oppressive July heat. Here is what I've written in my journal.
Scholars, lawyers, and governments will no doubt weigh in on whether or not the residential schools experience in Canada officially constitutes a cultural form of genocide. In the meantime, it is important to create a cultural and intellectual climate in this country that is flexible and sensitive enough to recognize the depth of suffering experienced by traumatized people and their children without ranking it on a destructive hierarchical scale.
I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action. I write also in the immediate aftermath of anti-Semitic terror and killing in France, and in the midst of ongoing mass atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria, ethnic cleansing in Darfur and South Sudan, and killing fields in Syria and elsewhere. And so, at this important historical moment, we should ask ourselves: What have we learned in the last 70 years, and more importantly, what must we do?
My mother very rarely talked about what happened to her in the Second World War. There were short bursts of recollection, little anecdotes of walking for days on end, seeing bodies scattered in the road. Bombed out buildings. Soldiers and military vehicles everywhere. But the essence of her story was missing. Or not told.
When black Dutch players received their Jim Crow-inspired welcome in Krakow last week, we were shocked, stunned, and depressed -- but hardly surprised. This stuff ain't new in that part of the world. Meanwhile a portion of the 10,000 Russian fans who have bought tickets will be holding a march from central Warsaw to the stadium. Poles view it as "provocative." Can you really blame them?
It was a cool spring day, and the sunlight shone kindly down on Auschwitz. Beyond the barbed wire, villagers walked briskly to church in their Sunday finest. Eva walked in queue with the other women and children toward "the showers," a place the adults knew was the gas chamber. They were 200 meters away.