Updated: Nov 12, 2019
There's not a lot that remains of the Lodz ghetto. which was the last ghetto in Poland to be liquidated, in the summer of 1944. We walked around the streets and tried to identify the buildings that might have housed long-gone family members.
The Radegast Monument, the railway station from where Jews were transported to their deaths, plunged us back into that surreal world of unmitigated horror. To see a cattle car, the barbed wire at the small opening, to touch the restored wood, is to understand that it's true. The understanding is cerebral rather than visceral. How can we begin to comprehend an iota of the anguish and fear of the men, women and children who trundled to their death in this stuffy confined place. I tried to imagine being there; I fantasized how I would have escaped, but no plan seemed foolproof. It was a meaningless exercise carried out at a different time in history.
We walked down a long hallway whose walls were lined with the Nazi lists of the names of the Jews in the ghetto and those to be transported to the death camps. Some of the lists had names that were crossed out in red ink. Also displayed were fragments of items that the Jews made in the ghetto.
Later, we visited the Jewish cemetery. The cemetery is vast and overgrown with greenery. We searched for the graves of Szymon and Hencla Zmidek and eventually located the grave of Szymon Zmidek. Another connection to our ancestral past was established.