Thursday, May 22, 2008

Around the Corner

I almost feel like I shouldn't write about this because there's no way I can communicate the depth of feeling I have about this subject. This is something that makes me cry nearly every time I think about it.

A few years ago, in an English discussion group I was leading, we started talking about the history of Mielec. I learned that before the war, Mielec had been almost 50% Jewish. I was shocked! (these days I know there are a some J. W.s and an LDS family, but it seems everyone else is Catholic) I was told that there had been a Jewish cemetery where the current parking lot of the main post office is, and that if you walked by the river you could still find Jewish tombstones that had been thrown into the river by the Nazis when they destroyed the cemetery.

One of the guys in my class brought in a book of the history of Mielec and showed me some pictures of the deportation of the Jews from Mielec (you have to scroll down below the page heading to see these). They were taken in the main square. In many of the photos you can see soldiers herding the people like sheep (guns displayed prominently).Here you can see lots of their bundles being piled up. It seems unlikely that they ever saw their things again. And they marched to an unknown fate.

Shortly after we moved into this house 4 months ago, in the course of a walk around the neighborhood, we found this around the corner from where we live.

"An Eternal Memorial for the hundreds of Jewish men and women from the town of Mielec killed by the Nazis on March 9, 1942 and buried in this mass grave."

Of the thousands of Jews to be deported that day, many hundreds (close to a thousand) were killed instead of being put on the train. They were mostly the elderly, children and prominent members of the Jewish community. Men like these almost surely did not leave Mielec. Here they lie.


KC said...

What a sad story--and even sadder to know that it happened in so many other places as well. One of my most favorite books is Suite Francaise, by a Jewish woman named Irene Nemirovsky who was deported from France and killed at Auschwitz. She was an absolutely amazing author, but her life was snuffed out before she could reach her true potential. What wonderful amazing things all of those people in those pictures could have done if they had been allowed to live. That's what I always think when I see pictures like this.

jonesfamily said... Unimaginable.

Susan said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, I guess since we read The Book Thief that takes place in WWII Germany. I've heard the true story called The Zookeeper's Wife is a really good one about the how the Warsaw Zoo is still running thanks to Hitler wanting it to be and the Wife helps the Jews in Warsaw.

Andrea & da boyz said...

Wow. This was a surprising entry. How surreal to live in an area that had such a traumatic place in history. I have only read accounts and seen movies--and I was very touched by your account. I can only imagine how it must feel to know you are so close to such a memorial. Thanks for this post!

Pam said...

There is a book called The Choice: Poland, 1939-1945 by Irene Eber that you might like to read. It's about Mielec. It's available through a "remainders" catalog: If they don't ship to Poland, let me know if you'd like me to order it for you.

Erin said...

That is so sad. So, so sad. Thank you for sharing.

L.T. Elliot said...

That breaks my heart. I'm so glad you shared it though because the only thing more tragic than this situation is the world forgetting that it happened.