Monday, August 8, 2011

On my Way to Poland...Keep the Revolution Going

Tomorrow morning I leave for an 8-day trip to Poland, to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Treblinka death camps, as well as the cities of Lodz, Krakow, Lublin and Warsaw. I am not sure why I am going; I am sure I know why I am going.

The Holocaust is part of every Jew's psyche; it is buried within, and can never be erased.

I have studied the long-term psycho-social impacts of the Holocaust for over 20 years. I've heard hundreds of life stories from survivors, from their children, from their grandchildren. I have heard many many life stories of children and grandchildren of Germans, and of Nazis. I've been to Germany many times, but never to Poland.

And so tomorrow, it happens.

I am not sure why I am going, since this could prove to be a very emotionally draining trip, and since I do not need to make it, why am I exposing myself to potential psychic trauma and deep sadness?
I am sure that I know why I am going, since because it is part of who I am, even in a very distant family way (some of my father's distant family was killed in Lithuania) , and I really need to see for myself the places where the atrocities happened, and stand where so many victims stood. I need to hear about the history of Poland as I look upon the buildings and monuments, and as I try to imagine what must have been there, in places where the buildings, streets no longer exist.

I have no idea how I will react there - in Poland.
I do not want to cry.
I very much want to cry.
I do not want to be torn up inside.
I want to feel deeply the pain.
I do not want to hear all of the history.
I need to hear the history, and learn things that I do not yet know.

I am going with my daughter, who is one of our guides. And this makes me very happy. My daughter will now be my teacher - I will see this part of her that I have yet seen, and have this deep experience with one of the most important people in my life.
I am going with my good friend, Shoshana, who originally comes from Poland. This will be another bonding experience for us. I hope that I can be a support for her, if she needs it. I feel some sense of safety going with these two special people in my life.

I am going to Poland tomorrow. Wish me safe journeys.
I am going to Poland tomorrow, keep the revolution going. Keep the huge call for social-economic justice in the public eye.
I am going to Poland tomorrow, keep the idea alive that all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, background, race, gender, age, deserve to live lives of dignity.

This is why I know why I am going to Poland. To see it up close, to remember why it is so crucial for us to care for one another, to remember that when people disregard the lives and rights of others, terrible things can happen.

Wish me safe journies - wish us all safe journey in this life.

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