Monday, July 23, 2012

Trip back to US

Left Warsaw Poland yesterday at 10 am their time (got to airport at 6 am). Arrived at Frankfurt Germany -smooth time on catching connection at 1:20 their time. Flew 8 hours to arrive in Newark NJ at 3 EDT. Made it thro customs and caught flight to Chicago, landing at 10:00. Got car and drove to Ohio, getting in at 3 am. Wedding today at 4:30. Someday when my mind clears I'll figure out how long my day was yesterday. But it was worth it.  Home for my nephew Brett's wedding to Ashlie.    And now that I'm home for a few weeks before school begins and have rested-- I'm going to go back and go more in depth about the places we visited and the people we met. More to follow!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Last night for me

We visited with some teachers from Poland and heard how they are teaching the Holocaust. Then toured the Warsaw Ghetto. We then all dressed up and were treated to a Chopin concert in the last king of Poland summer palace. A meal of salmon salad and roasted duck as we all talked about what fast food restaurant we were going to hit as soon as we get back to US. The group sang a belated Happy Birthday to me as my send off. They have one more day touring Treblinka so their wake up call was at 11. I'm catching an early plane to Chicago so was up at 3. Hoping to sleep on plane so I will be awake for my nephews birthday.

Last hotel of trip

We are Staying in the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw Poland to end our trip. It sits right next to the President's Palace.


This camp was left intact at the end of the war as the Russians moved in too fast and the Germans was not able to blow it up. While we were visiting, a large group of Israeli soldiers were touring it also. Apparently it's part of their training to visit all camps.


Krakow was the old capital of Poland and wasn't destroyed like Warsaw during the war. After touring Auschwitz and Birkenau all day Saturday, we visited some museums in Krakow the next morning. One was the new Schindler Museum located next to where his factory was. Another was a institute where they are researching Jewish life in Krakow before the war, life in the ghetto and document their deaths in the various surrounding camps.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pics from train trip.

Craving American food

The food on this trip has been fabulous and first class. I've eaten stuff I probably would not have otherwise: veal, cow's tongue, creamy pea soup, chicken wrapped in mushrooms and spinach, salmon among others. The thing I've hated the most was the gassy water, even after a British student showed me how to get most of the gas out of it. It still about made me gag. Bought chocolate in Germany (Milka-thanks to Sandra's advice) and Poland (Wedel) for the family and hope all the bars make it to Ohio. However we all are beginning to crave American food. When we flew from Israel to Frankfurt Germany on July 9, we had enough time at the airport most of us hit the American type food places. I went to Burger Ranch for a cheeseburger and fries, others hit the pizza place. Forget about trying something famous from that country -- I wanted junk. We've seen McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway and Burger King in all these countries, but have not stopped at one. So here are the things I haven't eaten since leaving Ohio on June 30-- potato chips, ice cold drinks with actual ice in them, milk, and cheddar cheese. I last had a Mountain Dew on July 3 and when I tried the one I bought in Poland this morning either I lost the taste for it or it tastes crappy here. So looking forward to junk food.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Interesting Polish folklore

It is a Polish belief that storks not only bring babies but also good luck. So some people in the country will take those old wooden wagon wheels and either put them on their chimneys or nearby pokes to encourage storks to build their nests there. This time of year the storks are migrating from North Africa to Israel. We saw about 10 of these on our bus drive today.

Mountain Dew Poland style

On our bus trip today we stopped at a convenience store for a break and I found Mountain Dew on sale for the first time since we left America on July 3. The only things I've been drinking is bottled still (not gassy) water and Coca Cola. I bought it for 2,45 zlotys but not sure I want to drink it because it might not taste like what I'm used to.


Group loaded the bus for a 5 hour drive to Belzec, a killing camp near Lublin Poland. When people were sent here they were sent straight to the gas chamber. It was estimated that between 400-500,000 were killed here in the 9 months it was opened. The Nazis simply shut it down because all the Jews in this part of Poland no longer existed. There was nothing left of this camp, but the memorial here was powerful. What made it even more poignant was that one of our leader's paternal grandmother died here and her name was on the wall of the memorial. Pictures do not do it justice. Spending the night at Hotel Europa in Lublin Poland. Tour of the city tomorrow then on to Majdanek, a camp for slave labor.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

1st museum - Lohamel

Our 1st visit in Israel was to Lohamel,which in Hebrew means fighters of the ghetto, or more commonly known as the Ghetto Fighters Museum. It is located in Western Galilee (Israel) about 10 kilometers from the Lebanon border. Nearby is a kibbutz or commune made up of people that resisted the deportation of the Jews. This kibbutz created the museum on April 19, 1949-- the 6th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and is still maintained by them. People living in a kibbutz share their resources to all those living there. This one makes their money through making transformers, agricultural products and a special type of cutlet made out of soy. Today it's not so much a commune as it was, but people living there are guaranteed to be taken care of for life. Part of their reasoning for this was to compensate for all the losses they suffered during World War II.
One of the purposes of this place is to tell the story of Jewish refugees that weren't afraid to fight and take responsibility for their future. The second purpose is to teach the future generations their responsibility to society. The children's museum was opened in 1995 to remember the loss of a generation --the potential children of those killed in the camps. And it is here where much of their teaching takes place -- in a white, round room representing how the past, present and future are one, interconnected and all is equal--sitting in a circle. The room is decorated by stained glass windows with pictures drawn by children that perished at Terezin. They are brightly colored-- representing butterflies, based on the phrase (and book title) "I never saw a butterfly" (in the ghetto and/or camps.). The butterfly represents freedom, living life to the fullest, vibrant colors-- all connected to childhood. We then toured the museum that showed the various resistance movements.

Pictures from Auschwitz

Sobering 3 hour tour of this camp. Couldn't believe how big it was, how intact it was and probably 20 tour buses there. Jurek was our guide and did a very good job.