I spent today with a group of graduates and university students who are all youth workers for various organisations. The same organisations who were instrumental in carrying out uprisings in the camps and ghettos we visited.
This morning we stood at the deportation square, depicted so well in
Schindler’s List, on the site of the Krakow ghetto, and saw the beautiful memorial – chairs scattered here and there, waiting forever.
Facing them now is a travel agent.
We saw Schindler’s factory, which is decorated with photographs of workers. Renée recognised a man who had become a customer of the deli she opened in London after the war.
I have no idea what to write about visiting Birkenau and Auschwitz today. I can tell you that we walked for four hours and hardly saw any of the site because it is huge. I can tell you that we sat and ate a picnic lunch on grass that had grown through the ashes of human remains. I heard survivor testimonies and saw piles of hair and suitcases.
The shoes, though. I was struck by the piles of shoes. A familiar photo and an iconic symbol of what happened at these places. But the photos are all black and white. The shoes are not. The shoes are real. The shoes are like our shoes. Different styles, colours, sizes.
On the bus back to Krakow, a girl sat beside me for a chat and some advice as she is about to apply for a place on a photography degree. We chatted for ages and it warmed my heart.
I’ve been working with a journalist who lives in Leeds, writing for an Israeli magazine, who will publish some of my photos from this week, as well as a couple of newspapers.
I should probably say more about today but it just hasn’t come to me. I wonder if and when it might.