Six Jews Share Their Impressions of Oswiecim
From over here we think that over there
it is still nineteen forty five. But no—
for the people who live there it is just
their town which goes now by its Polish name.
A beautiful building in the centre
of the civic square has been turned into
a grocery shop.
Since the end of communism they get
a lot of Jewish tourists. One old man
showed us a Jewish cemetery. There
was nothing except a grassy slope with
a stream nearby. And some trees. Maybe they
were cherry trees? The old man would talk to
the guide and she would translate a quarter
of what he said. We put coins in his hand
and wondered whose house
he lived in.
One cemetery was unusual.
Around the outside was a concrete wall,
broken in two by a jagged crack. In
the middle of the crack there was space. From
inside the wall you could see their wintery
Polish sky. We weren’t sure whether this crack in the wall
was a sculpture or just neglect and if
it was a sculpture, what it meant. As a group
we are still divided.
Another day, we were walking in the
town square with our guide when she turned to us
and said, We miss our Jews. We didn’t know
what to make of this