Updated: Nov 12, 2019
I didn't accompany the family to the Jewish cemetery at Okopowa. The visit was arranged for the family to pay their respects and help clean up the area around the graves of family members.
Jeff: "We arrived at 9.30, met with Zbigniew Sztranc, who's a member of a group of volunteers who help keeps the cemetery clean (see Facebook page). We're actually the first family that he's been along with - that has asked him for help. The head of the place, Yisroel Szpilman, was meant to guide us around but his assistant didn't turn up and he was too busy to help us.
"The cemetery's laid out in a grid. You look at a map of the cemetery, but when you go looking for a sector, it's hit and miss. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. You get a rough idea from the map that if you go beyond that path, at the back somewhere is the sector you're looking for.
"After about 40 minutes, Harry found the grave of Chana Ruchla Suknik. Chana was in the Warsaw Ghetto and died in 1942. I can't remember who I heard it from, but we were told that the German guards had to be bribed in order to bury her in the cemetery instead of in a mass grave."
It was curious that the grave is in such a good condition. After checking with the director, it transpires there is a relative in Denmark who, a few years ago, paid for the grave to be restored. After some investigation, we discovered why the grave is in such good condition: Anna Suknik visited the Cemetery in 2001, 2005 and 2013 and each time paid to have trees removed around the grave of Chana Ruchla and the area kept clean. She also arranged to have a memorial put on the wall inside the cemetery.
Gabrielle: "The cemetery was so peaceful when we walked in. A place to reflect.
Lois also said how beautiful and ethereal it is. She also experienced the peace here in the trees."