Nazis in Prague

plac bohaterów getta kraków

Plac Bohaterów Getta, Kraków

 

I flew back from Kraków this afternoon. I had gone there with my parents; it was their first time in Poland. Of course our sightseeing focused on the Jewish sites. I showed them the former Jewish district of Kazimierz and, together with my Polish-American friend A who has lived in Kraków for 22 years, the wartime ghetto over the river in Podgórze.

There were new Jewish things in Kraków since I had last been there in July 2006.

The Galicia Jewish Museum documents Jewish life and culture in Galicia.

There is now a memorial to the Jews of the Podgórze ghetto that takes up all of Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square).

And Schindler’s factory is to become a museum – half modern art and half museum of righteous gentiles.

That was all very positive.

I took my parents to Auschwitz and Birkenau. But first we went into the town of Oświęcim to see my friend Tomek at the Auschwitz Jewish Center, which celebrates the rich Jewish life that existed in Oświęcim before the Nazis established their death camp there. My parents saw the students visiting the center and the young Germans who were volunteering there. They heard about the cross-cultural understanding and tolerance work that goes on there and at the International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim. All of that saved the day from being entirely depressing.

Today my parents went on to Warsaw and I came home to Prague. When I checked my email, I found the news that on the coming anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Nazi pogrom of 9-10 November 1938 – a neo-Nazi group will be marching through Josefov, the historically Jewish district of Prague. Prague Town Hall had tried to block the march, but the Municipal Court of Prague has overturned the ban.

Fine, I say, because freedom of speech is holy and the Nazis should be allowed to march. But we who vehemently disagree with them are also free to express ourselves. So if you live in Prague and you know me personally, expect an email, expect a phone call. The Jewish Liberal Union is organising a counter-demonstration and we all need to be there. It is our presence and the simple act of outnumbering the fascists that will demonstrate to the world and to the fascists themselves that their politics and their beliefs are not acceptable here.

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8 Responses to Nazis in Prague

  1. Dane says:

    Wow, Max, wow. Reading this entry gave me flashbacks; that’s almost the exact route my student group took on our trip to Poland – we even stayed in the international youth center in Oświęcim.

    Oh, and Tomek was our tour guide. He’s a hysterically droll tour guide. I seem to remember his tour of Warsaw sounding something like “And this place here, they killed the Jews. And on that street corner, they rounded up the Jews to be killed.” By that point in the trip, I was cracked out, humor-wise, and couldn’t stop giggling hysterically.

    Did the Galicia museum still have that photo exhibit up? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – all the pictures of fields and flowers that once held concentration camps. Chilling stuff.

    What’d your parents think of it all?

  2. Max says:

    Dane, are you aware that I was the first director of the study abroad programme you were on? As such, I had a hand in developing the Poland tour, Tomek was my academic guide, and I too have stayed at the International Youth Meeting Center. That was all more than 6 years ago.

    The photo exhibit was up at the Galicia Museum. I thought the photos were beautiful, but I didn’t have any real reaction to them. To be honest, I have seen so much of that kind of stuff that I don’t really react anymore.

    My parents were pretty impressed by everything they saw in one way or another. I was very happy to be able to show them positive things and introduce them to people who do very good work, like Tomek. Poland is one of my favourite places and I wanted them to like it too.

    Now I have 3 days off whilst my parents are in Warsaw, and then I have them back in Prague for the entire weekend.

  3. Dane says:

    Um, ha. I stand informed – I had no idea you were connected to that program through anyone other than K. I wonder why she never mentioned it.

  4. Max says:

    K does not mention it because it is not relevant to what I do for the programme now.

  5. aunt cookie says:

    Wow Max!

    the news about the march in Prague is not only disturbing but sad. Insensitivity and stupidity and intolerance – one would have hoped would be gone unfortunately with the advent of the internet we are ever alerted to its constancy.

    love to your parents – and especially to you

  6. Max says:

    Aunt Cookie, I did some translating for the Jewish Liberal Union today: http://www.zlu.cz/en/index.html

    Parents are still in Warsaw; they had dinner with Boris tonight.

  7. Steve says:

    Enjoy the blog. Thanks for the dining tips in Marseille. Your blog showed up in my Googling around for info… Me, the wife, and the kids are headed for some sightseeing there tomorrow and the next day. Peace, Steve

  8. Max says:

    Steve, enjoy Marseille, and please stop by again.

    Max

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