Warsaw Ghetto Sites, Tykocin, Lopuchowa Forest, & Warsaw Old Town

“Earth do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! “-Job 16:18

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We began our day by visiting several of the Warsaw Ghetto sites.

Ghetto Heroes Monument & Path
The Ghetto Heroes Monument (Polish: pomnik Bohaterów Getta) is a monument in Warsaw, Poland, commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 during the Second World War. It is located in the area which was formerly a part of the Warsaw Ghetto, at the spot where the first armed clash of the uprising took place. The monument was built partly of Nazi German materials originally brought to Warsaw in 1942 by Albert Speer for his planned works. The completed monument was formally unveiled in April 1948.

The monument, sculpted by Nathan Rapoport was unveiled on April 19, 1948. The monument stands 11 meters (36 ft) tall. As Rapoport himself explained, the “wall” of the monument was designed to evoke not just the Ghetto walls, but also the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem. The great stones would thus have “framed the memory of events in Warsaw in the iconographic figure of Judaism’s holiest site.” The western part of the monument shows a bronze group sculpture of insurgents – men, women and children, armed with guns and Molotov cocktails. The central standing figure of this frieze is that of Mordechai Anielewicz (1919 – 8 May 1943) who was the leader of Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (English: Jewish Combat Organization), also known as the ŻOB, during the uprising. Below are some images from our walk along the Heroes Path.

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The Jan Karski statue on the Heroes Path

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Track-Mila 18, Umschagplatz:
The Umschlagplatz (German: collection point or reloading point) was a holding area set up by Nazi Germany adjacent to a railway station in occupied Poland, where the ghettoised Jews were assembled for deportation to death camps during the ghetto liquidation. The largest such collection point consisted of a city square in occupied Warsaw next to the Warsaw Ghetto, used for several months during daily deportations of 254,000 – 265,000 Warsaw Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp. A monument was erected in 1988 on Stawki Street, where the Umschlagplatz was located, to commemorate the deportation victims.

For logistical reasons, the victims awaiting the arrival of Holocaust trains were often kept at the Umschlagplatz overnight during Operation Reinhard, the deadliet phase of the Holocaust in Poland. The same term in the German language is used commonly to denote a place where all goods for rail transport are handled. Below are images of our group at the Umschlagplatz.

Tykocin:
Following our visit to the sites of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising sites, we departed Warsaw and traveled to Tykochin. Tykocin [tɨˈkɔt͡ɕin] Yiddish: ‎טיקטין) is a small town in north-eastern Poland, with 2,010 inhabitants (2012), located on the Narew river. Tykocin has been situated in the Podlaskie Voivodeship since 1999. Previously, it belonged to Białystok Voivodeship (1975-1998). It is one of the oldest settlements in the region. The Jewish population of Tykocin estimated at 2,000 people was eradicated by Nazi Germans during the Holocaust. On 25–26 August 1941 the Jewish residents of Tykocin were assembled at the market square for “relocation”, and then marched and trucked by the Nazis into the nearby Łopuchowo forest, where they were executed in waves into pits by SSEinsatzkommando Zichenau-Schroettersburg under SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Schaper. A memorial now exists outside the city for the Tykocin pogrom. We walked through the town and visited the Tykocin cemetery which is all that remains of the Jewish community.

Tykocin cemetery which is all that remains of the Jewish community.

Tykocin Synagogue :
The Tykocin Synagogue is an historic synagogue building in Tykocin, Poland. The synagogue, in mannerist-early Baroque style, was built in 1642. The synagogue was thoroughly restored in the late 1970s. The historic wall paintings, most of which are decorative texts of Hebrew prayers, were restored. The elaborate, decorative ceiling was not reconstructed although some idea of the style can be gleaned from the design of the Torah Ark. A former Beit Medrash (study and prayer hall) located across the street has been restored and is in use as a city museum. Although no Jews now live in Tykocin and the town has no other tourist attractions, 40,000 tourists a year come to see the old synagogue, which towers over the remote village “in lonely and unexpected splendor.

IMG_1305Outside the synagogue in Tykochin we met a lovely man carving wooden figurines. His English was limited but I asked if I could take a picture with him and he said “selfie!”

Lopuchowa Forest:

Our bus then drove us on the route from the town to the nearby forest of   Lopuchowa where almost all Jewish inhabitants of Tykocin were shot by on 25th August 1941.

Reflections:

Jeff Moorhouse- “When you do something horrible you can’t keep it hidden forever.”

Terri Tims-” This is the place I could relate to the most. This is the type of place my family comes from. I found it hard to leave.”

Treblinka:
Treblinka (pronounced [trɛˈblʲinka]) was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It was located in a forest north-east of Warsaw, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the Treblinka train stationin what is now the Masovian Voivodeship. The camp operated between 23 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 as part of Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Final Solution. During this time, it is estimated that between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews were killed in its gas chambers, along with 2,000 Romani people. More Jews were killed at Treblinka than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz.

Warsaw Old Town:
Here we are at the end of this incredible journey at Sanlorenzo Italian restaurant in Warsaw Old Town. The Old Town is the oldest part of the capital city. It is bordered by the Wybrzeże Gdańskie, along with the bank of Vistula river, Grodzka, Mostowa and Podwale Streets. It is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Warsaw.

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We depart for the airport at 3:30am and can’t wait to share all of our photographs and stories with you back in Tennessee.

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