Sur les bords de la Vistule – Along Vistula Riverbanks

The recital was held in Kraków, a city of wonderful musicians, in the makeshift auditorium in the bellísima Casa Veneciana. The extreme cold had kept us from visiting much of the art-strewn city; but at noon, when the fog lifted and the sun appeared, I was able to slip out of the hotel for a stroll along the Ryneck Glowny (Maria Àngeles Anglada, The Auschwitz Violin 🎻)

I didn’t think much about Poland for a long time. There are so many beautiful places to see…and I carried a resentment from memories of my best friend’s father stoned by his fellow villagers when he tried to get back to his Polish home after having undergone the atrocities of deportation and concentration camps including the loss of his entire family including his wife and children…obviously a not uncommon experience <<<<
n that same feeling of being an “imaginary Jew” carrying other people’s history because I was lucky enough to be among the remaining Jews after Herr H. did his dirty business…what you don’t see gets in your mind no matter whether you have the full picture…and in this instance I had more than a full picture come to think about it!

However, even after reading Tova Reich’s hilarious My Holocaust, my medieval frenzy coupled with curiosity regarding what she calls the Holocaust business (to each his/her Holocaust) made this trip unavoidable…click on the link to read more)

Contrary to my Napoli almost improvised expedition (there, I was on my territory, so to speak), I planned my 4 days in such a way as to make sure I wouldn’t need to come back;

  • one day around the Rynek Glówny Market Square (the Krakow version of St Marco Square),
  • one day in Kasimierz,
  • one day out to Auschwitz (turned out to be ironically on the first day in 70 years that the despicable extreme right made it back to Bundestag) which wasn’t initially planned but turned out to be unavoidable,
  • and one day to put the puzzle of my feelings back by paying a visit to the Wzgórze Wawelskie (Wavel Castle) and the Dame à l’Hermine!

Of course Krakow won and I’ll be back!

To make sure of this I spent my last day doing all kinds of things but avoided the Wawel castle (well I did sneak in but remained on its periphery!).<<<<
e initial quotation of this post indicate, don’t visit (or at least don’t arrive to) Krakow in bad weather conditions, everything looks dull and sad, especially with most people not speaking English and thus sounding rude…and if it still happens to be the case, rush to the very old European Europejska café and comfortably wait for better days …at least you’ll get the strength to confront the shy Slav souls!

speak of experience here and after a few hours of wandering around here under heavy rain, despite the incredible beauty of St Mary’s Basilica and other obvious treasures (Sukiennice, St Peter and Pauland other Jesuit Churches…), I went back to my hotel with the fear of my Ukrainian mixed feelings… but prior to dinner decided to spend an hour at Podziemia Rynku, an interactive underground museum on the Market Square revisiting Krakow history from Krakus to the present days thanks to the excavations made 15 years ago around the market square… this hour became 4 hours which went on unnoticed due to the real interest of this attraction! There are no photos because it wouldn’t have come out at all, you will have to trust my word for it!

Then I understood better where I was and what I needed to focus upon, in this hanseatic city which had been a salty thus wealthy region since the 10th century and a cultural centre much beyond…

Among the many attractions in this lively and young city (demographically speaking!), the old Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz has become the Krakow Marais, with a Progressive Temple avant la lettre,<<<<
he Stara and Remu synagogues including a precious cemetery made my day…

It’s interesting and full of memories of an extinct community but I fail to feel any authenticity in these old stones and efforts to restore a past.<<<<
a memorial duty and an enlightening experience yet, despite treasures in the museums, the soul of those exterminated isn’t hunting these commercial places. Exactly as in the Marais.

As for the most heartbreaking moment in the symbol of evil and horror, I was impressed with the overwhelming presence of weeping willows, of respectful young people, of signs in Polish, English and Hebrew and of mentions of “Polish Jews” and “ethnic Poles”…but maybe because I am “une femme de lettres dans un monde d’images”, what moved me to tears which I had managed to repress in the tangible remains of the unspeakable ruins of gas chambers or barracks were the written epitaphs in the languages of the victims. The efficiency of the organization of these tours which I initially resented, proved however a good way to prevent the overflow of emotions.

I was really relieved however to end this day by a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine https://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com/as it’s always interesting as I found out after visiting Zipaquira Salt Cathedral https://www.catedraldesal.gov.co/ 30 years ago<<<<<
e was my list for my last day and this is how much I’ve actually done ✅<<<<<
ish Progressive Temple Ul. miodowa 9-18:00✅<<<<<
AK 11-19:00<<<<<
ée national with Dame à l’Hermine 10-18:00✅<<<<<
teau Wavel 10-17:00<<<<<
legium Maius B4 10-17:20✅with its rather inaccurate yet innovative 1520 globe

6) Placu Bohaterhów Getta w Krakowie with empty chairs✅

7) Oskar Schindler factory and Modern Arts Museum

<<<<<
onderful things and learnt a lot but next time I hope to actually be able to talk to people as I can’t say this was much of a communicative experience apart from occasional tourists of course!<<<<<
food front this was a real discovery, even though Annabelle Schachmes (post on diasporas)  actually hinted at that: Jewish and Polish Cuisines, apart from Tcholent and Gefillte Fish are absolutely equivalent!

You can find bagel stands at all street corners like in Jerusalem .<<<<<
s my foodie list (I added a ✅ when I went there:<<<<<
Aleph: rather kitsch not exactly up to its reputation yet fabulously located for visits both to the Old Town and Jewish district at a stone throw of the Wawel Castle<<<<<
pskie Jadko✅, especially the one on Sw Agnieski next to the Aleph HotelRybki fabulous hotel and Gastro food, like Copernicus  actually where I finally learnt to appreciate the borscht! Tried and loved both as well as I enjoyed the fabulous view and food from the Krakow equivalent of Maison Kammerzel, the prestigious Wierzynek<<<<
ld like to conclude on the true cultural dimension of this incredible city, and the fact that I learned a lot of things including the sufferings of Polish intellectuals under nazi regime and that truth is always where you were expected the least, facing reality rather than thinking with other people’s eyes… I grew up in Europe where Solidarnosc was one of the first manifestation of the powerful liberation movement of Eastern Europe, where the Polish Pope was an icon and Andrzej Wajda the cultural reference…

The omnipresent Pope is the only testimony of this page of my history…

I attach further photos at the bottom of the page and will be glad to comment on them if necessary.

Other references:

Diary from the ashes project<<<<
offman, Lost in Translation, 1998, Vintage: London

Transatlantic, Witold Gombrowicz, transl. Danita Borchardt, Yale UP, New Haven & London, 1957, new edition 2014.

Message from my Polish friend and colleague Magdalena:

am so happy you think so, Daphné! I used to live an hour’s drive away. I only moved to the west last year. A year too early to meet you in person… Have a wonderful stay, and please visit the nearby city of Bielsko-Biala if you have a chance. When you’re there, you can take two Jewish Heritage interactive tours around the city that I designed: http://experien.city/viewExperienceDetails.php?idexp=2794 and http://experien.city/viewExperienceDetails.php?idexp=2793 Enjoy!”

I promised Magda that I’d make sure to attend then next time…together with Wavel Castle

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