4. Sitting Down In My GGGrandfather’s House.

We drove to Krakow and had a wonderful time just roaming the streets. There was a political rally commemorating the Russian invasion of Poland Sept 17, 1939. Zenon reminded me that Stalin had a deal with Hitler and when the war started to go bad for the Germans, Stalin changed sides. The city is beautifying itself and it is gorgeous. The streets are full of festive banners. Next to Paris, it is the most visited city in Europe because of its festive atmosphere. There is a McDonald’s somewhere on this street! (Driving can be dangerous in Poland, so don’t drive!)

Street scene from Krakow


From Krakow we went to Oswiecim (Polish Spelling) to see the death camps for the Jews and others!

The gate at Auschwitz, the sign above the gate says,

I went primarily to say Kaddish for the family of Judy’s dad’s good friend who, while he survived this death camp, saw his wife and 4 children shot in the head at the train station. He married a woman he met in Auschwitz (German spelling) and settled in Rutland, Vermont. He always would ask Judy’s dad, Lorny (nickname for Laurence), ‘How am I doing?’ and her dad would say, ‘You are doing just fine’.

He had a son and daughter that attended Rutland High school.  Judy drew a portrait of his son which hung in his home.  While I stood there, I recited an English translation of this Jewish prayer for the dead (Incidentally, death is not mentioned.) for David’s first family. It began to rain gently and the ink from my script began to run both from the mist and my tears. I signed Judy’s father’s name ‘from Laurence Duane Ward’ folded it up and stuck it in the space between the post and the sign.

I also found in the Polish records that a ‘Pyka’ and a ‘Welna’ were interred at Auschwitz.  Zenon said he will to find out where they were from and perhaps how we might be related. Over 150,000 Poles perished in Auschwitz.


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