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October 02, 1992 - Image 100

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-02

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

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Special to The Jewish News

C

hristina Klekot pro-
bably has more close
friends in Israel than
in her native Poland, which
would be unusual for any
Pole, and particularly for one
from Oswiecim (better known
by its German name,
Auschwitz).
She met them through her
work as a guide at the
Auschwitz Concentration
Camp, where Israelis seek her
out because she is one of the
very few guides who make it
clear that most of those who
perished at the camp were
Jews.
During the years of Com-
munist rule in Poland, the
Jewish aspect of the
Auschwitz tragedy was prac-
tically ignored, and even to-
day — despite recent visits to
the site by the Israeli presi-
dent and chief of staff — it
tends to be downplayed by the
Poles; Christina remains an
exception.
An Israeli travel guide who
has brought groups to
Christina over a dozen times,
Rehovot resident Varda
Mushlin is now hosting her
on Christina's second visit to
Israel. Their friendship has
blossomed over the years, aid-
ed by the fact that Varda's
mother tongue is also Polish.
Indeed, she still has a soft
spot in her heart for Poland,
perhaps because she spent
her childhood there as a "real
Pole."
Varda's parents, who had
escaped Auschwitz by fleeing
to Russia during the Second
World War, decided, upon
returning to Poland, that
their future children must be
spared the suffering they had
undergone, and, therefore,
must not be told of their
Jewish origin. Only in 1967,
when Varda's family boarded
a train at the Warsaw station
— on the first leg of a journey
that was to take them to
Israel — were she and her
brother informed of their
Jewishness.
Today, as one might expect,
Varda has no questions about
her identity as a Jew and an
Israeli. But when she takes
other Israelis to Poland she
insists that they become ac-
quainted with Polish culture,
Polish cuisine and the Polish
countryside — that they see
Poland as more than just one
big death camp.
Going to Auschwitz, never-
theless, remains a central,
shattering experience for

them, made somewhat easier,
as Varda puts it, "because
Christina cries together with
us." This has a great deal to -
do with the fact that being a
guide at Auschwitz is much
more than just a job to ?
Christina; it is also the fulfill-
ment of a pledge she made to
her late father-in-law two
decades ago, who asked her to--,
help keep alive the memory of
the Holocaust.
A teen-ager in Oswiecim
during the Second World War,
he was appalled by the sight
of the starving, ragged labor
gangs that the Nazis brought
out of the camp to work at fac-
tories in the area. From time
to time he tried to give them
a little bread but was even--
tually caught in the act and
sent to Auschwitz himself.
From there he was shipped to
the Mauthansen Concentra- -
tion Camp in Austria, which
was liberated by American
soldiers in the spring of 1945.
He was a sickly 68 pounds at
the time and, never having
fully recovered his health, he
died before reaching the age
of 40.
Christina is proud to be
following in her father-in- -'
law's footsteps. ❑

Terrorists Fail
At Stabbing

Jerusalem (JTA) — Three
days after the brutal stabb-
ing of an Israeli soldier in
the Gaza Strip, Palestinian
terrorists attempted to kill
another soldier, but failed.
The attacker, 25, a resi-
dent of the Rimal neighbor-
hood in Gaza, approached
the soldier with a knife and
tried to stab him. However, ___
other soldiers spotted the at-
tacker, fired at him and
wounded him in the hand.
He was hospitalized in
Ashkelon.
Earlier, an explosive
charge went off near an
army post by the Bureij
refugee camp, close to the
place where soldier Alon
Karavani was kidnapped
last Friday, stabbed and left
badly wounded in an olive
grove. No one was hurt.
In the West Bank, an Arab
man was killed, at the Eli
junction south of Nablus,
after an explosive charge j
went off in his hands. He ap-
parently was preparing to ctJ
set the bomb against a Jew-
ish target.
In another incident, the
army clamped a curfew on
downtown Hebron, after a
Jewish woman was wounded
in a stoning attack.

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