Ghosts and Despair

I just got back from
the “New” Cemetery in the Kazimierz district of Krakow.  (New
meaning newer than the “old” cemetery.)  It was huge, and
completely filled with Jewish tombstones.  Some were old, a few
were new.  Some were in good shape, others were weathered or
knocked over.  Some were glued together.  Some had been moved
during the war and now are part of a mosaic-like “memory wall.”  

It’s sad many times over:  these
stones represent loved ones lost; they represent a community that was
erased; and perhaps worst of all is my feeling that for many of the
stones, no one will ever know who this person was or anything about
them, because the families of those people – the ones who would have
remembered who they were – are lost too.  

Of all the places dealing with the
Jewish people and/or our attempted eradication that I’ve seen so far,
this one made me the saddest.  I don’t know if it’s an
accumulation of all the things I’ve seen, or the uniqueness of this
place.  

It hurts to say this, because I believe in focusing on Jewish life and culture,
as opposed to the Holocaust, pogroms, or a sense of victimization – but
being here is starting to feel like walking through one big graveyard, full of ghosts and
despair.

UPDATE:  I realize, of course, that to say that is misguided,
myopic and generally unfair to the Jews and Poles living here today as
well as Jewish and Polish history here.  It’s just how I felt at
that moment.

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