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April 22, 1977 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-04-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

56 Friday,' April 22, 1977


Holocaust Frames A Student's View of Poland

(Editor's note: The follow-
ing letter by Tamar Kreinin
was written to her parents
in East Lansing while
Tamar was a member of
the 1976 United Jewish Ap-
peal College Leadership
Study Tour of Eastern Eu-
rope and Israel. Mrs. Krei-
nin wrote to The Jewish
News : "After reading your
eloquent expression of re-
membrance of martyrs and
heroes at our Seder, and
realizing that it is .about
time again for pilgrimages
to landmarks- of our heri-
tage, I-thought that perhaps
you and your readers may
be interested in the en-
closed impressions of our

My Dear Family:
We are in Warsaw, PO-
land. We got here Friday af-
ternoon and went to the
Jewish cemetery, over-
grown and crowded and run-
-- down. A small, old man is
the only one to care for it
and he is old and dying.
This is representative of
the Jewish community
here—old and dying. Sad.

While we were there we
met a beautiful, strong
woman. She lived in Poland

during the war and was in
there are nice, fun parts to
this city.
the Warsaw Ghetto. She
Saturday morning we
wds lucky: she was taken
went to one of the only syna-
in by a Christian family, de-
ported for two years to a la- gogues left. It's good as
most of Warsaw has been
bor camp, then escaped to
Suisse. Her husband completely ruined during
worked for the under- the war and has been
ground, he died two years rebuilt. The temple sur-
vived. But it's very sad, the
ago, she came to his grave.
is falling apart and
Now she writes songs • building
only a handful of old, old
.(which are on records). It men pray—no new life.
was so important to her
There are maybe 6,000
that she tell us stories—so Jews left in Poland, they
we wouldn't forget. Fan- are old, the Jewish culture
is dying opt. We spent 'till 1
First impressions of War- p.m. with these old men in
saw, Poland: very stereo- their temple. People from
typic: dieary: after the fa- the U.S. give them argent,
books, and- other things
cade of a bright, shiny hotel
they need. \
you look out the windows to
Something fantastic : this
see grey apartment build-
old, old rabbi (orthodox) ac-
ings. After grey apartment
building, luckily the many cepted Michal as a rabbi
(though she's a woman),
green - trees give it some
And we talked to these
We are constantly with men—again they wanted us
to remember. The only way
government assigned
for me to communicate was
guides who go with us
everywhere. Sometimes Hebrew!
In the afternoon we took
I'm scared to say or do
a "walking tour" espically
things. Though I still have
this fear, my stereotypes to the old city. It's nice
have been broken down there, they have rebuilt it
just as it used to be, and
some. I might not agree
with their way of life or it's pretty: painted build-
feel that I could live here,, ings and flowers similar to
but the people do smile and the square in Bruxelles.

Also all around the square
are people selling paintings.
I met a French woman
who was born here and
talked some French! After
dinner we discussed our
day—great discussion. This
whole thing is so fantas-
tic—so much to learn. I
only wish I was teaching
Sunday school so I could
teach this all to my kids ! I
could excite them so much!
We are driving to Krakow
on a bus via Lublin. So I
want to look at the scenery.
It's flat, green, trees. Small
grey cement or wood
houses, wheat fields. Well
the land got hillier and we
got to Lublin which was the
capital for hundreds of
years before Warsaw.
There are now 20 Jews;
used to be 50,000.
Anyhow we saw Majda-
nek concentration camp.
This camp went on for five
years and was primarily
for Jews. It was hor-
rible—anger and -hor-
ror—you feel it all through
your body and want to be
sick . . . Rooms just filled
(literally) with shoes; the
Germans_,were going to .use
them for industry. It is in-
credible. At the end is a
huge (side of one-half of


our house) pile of ashes of
everyone murdered.

The place now is silent. If
I closed my eyes I could be in
Nova Scotia but I can still
feel I'm not.
I wonder how a place
where so many Jews were
murdered can be so peaceful
and yet it doesn't seem right
that noise should disturb it.
The wind blows in mourn-

We got to Krakow late
last night—dinner at mid-
night. Then sat around and
played. guitar and sang!
The sun rises early here,
like at 3 a.m. and I haven't
once yet gone to sleep when
it's dark! Of all of Poland,
Krakow has best preserved
what the Jews had in Po-
land—their culture. There
used to be a flourishing Jew-
ish life for hundreds of
years here.
We went to Auschwitz
and B i r k e n a u
today—horrible—not quite
so hard because Majdanek
prepared us. Auschwitz had
a rubber factory—is more
compact—things are closer
together—brick buildings.
When liberated Jan. 27, 1945

still had 60,000 people there.
At least 4 million had been
murdered, 3 million Jews.
The Polish guide had no
emotion (not the govern-
ment assigned guide, but
one from the camp), and
wouldn't answer questions
pertaining to Jews. The slo-
gan was "Work makes you.
free." There were rooms
filled with -- hair—piles of
suitcases. This hit
home—the suitcases had
names on them.
Downstairs in the bar-
racks are three rooms: two
are three feet by three feet,
four people put here to
starve, the third room a
little larger, 40 people put
here to suffocate—one tiny,
barred up window.
Bi rkenau—huge, spread
out—"Four million people
suffered and died here at
the hands of the Nazi mur-
derers between the years
1940 and 1945" . . . written
in 17 languages on a shrine
After going to the camps
(you) I have a very strong
feeling for wanting to be in
Israel ! I can't wait 'till we
go there!


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