When we went to Poland, my oldest daughter and I, we were with a group of about 50 teenagers, parents and guides. The guard who came with us would check under the bus to see if there was a bomb. Wherever we went, we sang songs of hope, of compassion, of redemption. The songs were, in some cases, the very words sung by Jews on their way to
A few months ago, when Davidi went, they took an Israeli guard along. He checked the hotels before allowing the kids to enter.
Last Friday, a group from South Africa and Australia
Communities near Gaza hearing sirens: 7:02
a youth group and their counselors went to Auschwitz. When they tried to sing the same songs we did, the same songs sung 70 years ago as Jews were marched to their deaths, the guards yelled at them.
They were in an isolated area of the concentration camp, and still they were hounded. When the group kept singing, the guards called the police and the leader of the group was given a fine of $350.
Many of the children had grandparents who were prisoners and survivors. Many were in tears at the brutal way they were treated by the Auschwitz guards.
The counselor is demanding an immediate apology from the "management" of what is disgustingly referred to as the "Auschwitz Museum" and a return, in full, of the fine money that was taken from them.
I'll add that when we went, the female Polish guide we were forced to take, stood at the entrance to the death camp flirting with the Polish bus driver and the Polish camp guards while we walked among the dead and murdered.
When we got to Lodz, the Deputy Mayor came to address our small group. We were supposed to be honored - it was the 60th anniversary of something related to Lodz...maybe the liberation. Personally, I couldn't stomach the idea of listening to him and so I told the guides that after the Polish rabbi finished speaking, I was going to quietly slip out the back door. I stood in the back on purpose, hoping no one would notice.
I felt he had nothing to say to me. The Jews were all dead - there was nothing left to hear.
Amira looked torn - she wanted to go with me; she wanted to sit with the other girls. I told her to stay; that I'd be fine. I slipped out as planned and sat on the front steps of the museum where we had come to hear the mayor speak. A short while later, Amira came stamping outside. She had, in the middle of the speech, done exactly what a part of me had wanted to do...she stood up and walked out.
I asked her what he said, this Deputy Mayor of Lodz. She said that the man explained that there is no anti-Semitism in Poland...to which, my daughter and I both elegantly snorted.
And the proof said the Deputy Mayor of Lodz, my daughter went on to explain, is three-fold:
1. The Poles don't have to guard the Jewish places anymore.
2. There aren't really any Jews left in Poland.
3. There is more anti-Semitism in Germany today.