Grey over the Vistula the mist came in, Spring still struggling to show some colour. Yet we could see how, in colour, Krakow would glow and shine like the best of places.
That dim morning when we managed to find Schindler’s factory being turned into a museum, we had already worked it out. The past was being re-packaged.
Image courtesy of James de Mers
In Kazimierz all the old synagogues were nearly all museums, sad reminders of a people who once walked these old streets and where now they only converse as ghosts.
All the restaurants ‘sold’ themselves as Jewish. One even claimed to have been a Cheder where young boys once had read from the Torah, yet the menu sold pork loin and bacon.
‘This is not a Jewish restaurant,’ he said. ‘It is owned by a Swede.’ And the waiter, like the attendants in the museums, said with a smile, ‘No, I am not Jewish.’
How I would have loved to have dressed up as a Hasidic Jew with false ringlets too, to confront them with my appearance and find I was not in their market plan.
Image courtesy of Dzidek Lasek,
Over sixty years on I asked myself why I was here. I knew about it all, had read the books and thought of Adorno who claimed there could be no poetry now.
And here I was looking at the tourists looking at the exhibits. And I looked myself, horrified at the scale, the sheer insanity of it all; the evil.
They had lived in Kazimierz for hundreds of years and wagons had taken them here. I could understand those who had survived getting the hell out of Europe for good.
We market death as part of the Market, that keeps on adding to its endless list. We say we must never forget but that does not mean prevention in the future.
And so the Palestinian woman who wails her life away in some dark camp holding the key to her home in Haifa asks what she had done to be the new Jew.
And the family in Haifa reply that their home in the Kazimierz district was similarly expropriated and their escape had brought them to this shore.
Always pushing, always using, always unjust. There is no sense of guilt in this if the crime continues against others
while the guilt-free just re-arrange the world.
Image courtesy of Hawkarena,
After Auschwitz there should have been no Hiroshima or Nagasaki
no Cambodia or Rwanda no Afghanistan or Iraq no 9/11 or 7/7 and no need for the PLO or Hamas.
Jim Aitken is a poet and dramatist. His last poetry collection was Flutterings in 2016. His play Muriel of Leith appeared at the Leith Festival in 2017, produced by SpartaKi.
SpartaKi also produced his play Letters from Area C commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The play was performed at North Edinburgh Arts Centre on 2 November 2017.
Jim also tutors in Scottish Cultural Studies as well as Creative Writing and leads Literary Walks around Edinburgh.