Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 4: April 6th, 2013

Today, we were in Krakow for the second day. It started off with a casual Shabbat service and then we ventured off into the streets of the Jewish quarter to learn more about The Shoah. I seem to know a lot about this unfortunate event in Jewish history, but today new information came to me. When Peppy, our tour guide, was talking about the "Youth Movement" I thought she meant the Hitler Youth. But, I was certainly incorrect. The Youth Movement was a group of young Jewish men and women who decided to fight back. After the deportation of Jews from Krakow to Belzec there were only a couple thousand left and they "wanted to leave three lines of history for future generations" and that was "WE FOUGHT BACK," and fought back they sure did. Their first meeting for the Youth Movement was named "The Last Supper" and that was when their leaving a mark on history began. They knew that they weren't going to survive, but it was worth the effort. They wanted the Nazis to know that they were out there. The uprising occurred on December 22nd, 1942. Bombs were set off and Polish flags were hung on the bridge crossing over from the city to the Krakow ghetto. Within time, they were caught, imprisoned, put on trial, and eventually killed.
Though that is incredibly courageous, there was one story that really stuck in my head. Her code name was Justina and she fought back, too. It's not often that we hear about women standing up against the Nazi movement and the rallying of the Jews, but "Justina" did. She was married to the leader of the Youth Movement, but she wasn't just the wife; she was a leader as well. She helped with the uprising and when she was imprisoned she kept a diary on toilet paper. She was tortured in prison with broken fingers and little food, but she still documented everything that went on. Though she was eventually killed as well, she left future generations with information to help us better understand what went on in the Krakow ghetto and how the Youth Movement succeeded to leave their mark on history.
"We fought back." That's something that we, as people of the 21st century, should always keep in mind. Generation X is very into stating their opinions and trying to get the word out about injustice in the world. We are fighting back now. We are leaving our mark on history. As silly as I personally think it was last year about "KONY 2012," today in the streets of Krakow, I saw KONY graffitied all over the walls. Many people today are standing up for gay rights and bullying. We are fighting back and standing up for people who cannot stand up for themselves. Today, it is so important to have a voice. Even if your opinion isn't the majority, it's important to share what you believe in and what you think is "right" and "moral." We may not be living day-to-day with fear of losing our lives or searching for a small piece of bread, but we believe in something just like the Youth Movement of Krakow did. And that is what impacted me today on this incredible trip.

-Kali Cohen

Kali in front of a piece of original machinery from Schindler's factory now on exhibit at the Schindler museum

66 chairs representing the 66,000 Jews deported from Krakow during WWII.  This is the memorial in Krakow where we learned of "Justina's" story. 

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