>My mother and I are planning a trip to Warsaw in mid-June. We will visit the Jewish cemetery and try to find my great-grandfather's grave. (He died before the war, so he probably is lucky enough to have a burial place unlike my grandfather's sisters and mother.) We will see the few remnants of the wall of the Warsaw ghetto. We will visit the Jewish Historical Institute. We will do a records search. We will pass by the address where my grandfather's family owned a butcher shop and/or lived.
We will also go to Treblinka.
I always assumed that my grandfather's family died in Auschwitz, if they even lived to be deported from the ghetto. But, one of the dangers of Holocaust hagiography is that the fame of Auschwitz dwarfs reality. Deportations began in 1942, and when Warsaw's ghetto was liquidated in the spring of 1943, everyone left was sent to Treblinka, 2 hours outside of Warsaw in an isolated forest. There was no work at Treblinka. People died within an hour of their arrival.
Husband has a friend who lives in Warsaw who is very kindly helping me arrange my trip. He sent me a link to the Treblinka Museum. One of the things that fascinated me when I first learned about the Treblinka site is how noncommercial it is. Auschwitz, to me, is tourist attraction at this point. Tour groups go, people gape at the convent built on site, they exclaim over the signs proclaiming how much the Poles suffered* because it was initially built for Polish political prisoners. Treblinka was completely destroyed by the Nazis, so there's nothing "fun" to see. It is a sober monument to the 800,000 Jews and thousands of Gypsies and Romani murdered there.
Anyway, as I read the museum's website, I was taken aback by this statement:
The memorial should be visited with due seriousness and respect.
Within the area of the museum it is forbidden to bring dogs, smoke or eat ice cream.
Damn, I can't eat ice cream there? Well, I guess I'll have to pack ham and cheese pierogies and chocolate kolacky.
I hope that this was a translation error and in Polish it says, "no eating." Otherwise, WHAT THE FUCK? How weird is the focus on ice cream? Even weirder, it reminds me of a fucked up Hasidic monument I visited in Israel:
I mean, they are not the same thing, but the utter randomness of what is forbidden strikes me as similar. (In case the photo does not appear, it is a sign that says that it is forbidden for women to dance at this site.)
Anyway, it is going to be an intense trip. I believe we will also take a trip to Krakow, as Husband's friend recommended.
*Oh yeah, and some Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals died there, too. But whatever. (This is written in the vein of signage at Auschwitz, so pardon my bitter glibness.)