Day 2 – Sat 2 Sept – My nephew Nathan arrived from Holland in time for breakfast, he’s hopefully moving to London in the next few months to work at the Home Office but has just finished his Masters. He loves Poland so has come along for the weekend. Dariusz took us to the Tolle Lege centre which is very impressive, then we went on to the new national Cathedral which was opened a couple of years ago. It’s incredibly impressive, when we went in they were celebrating Mass. We had the full works, elevating and bowing to the mass, hocus pocus, I’d say there were about 150 there. We were the only ones in the Cathedral who didn’t bow to the elements. Along the side wall was a long line of people queuing up for confession. There must have been 15 women and 11 year old child. There was no confession booth just a screen and as the women got up they all invariably wiped tears from their eyes. I looked around there were families, lots of women there on their own but no men on their own. It’s a most remarkable beautiful building but so, so tragic that the message they hear is not the gospel.
From there we went on into the old town and wandered round, we had Zapienka for lunch, a kind of Polish baguette served with Tomato sauce on it. It wasn’t bad. Warsaw is beautiful and yet has some of the worst buskers I’ve ever encountered. We ended up at the Jewish museum which is in a beautiful building and traced their 1000 year history in Poland. It was fascinating but you know that at some point you’re going to get to 1939, which the film the Pianist depicts. The museum is simultaneously brilliant and awful, there are bits of it that I will never forget- the sheer numbers of people that were killed, tales of the gas chambers, the Jewish Police, the reality of evil and how man can do this to man, Adam Czerkianow the head of the Jewish Ghetto council committing suicide on the day after the mass extermination of the Jews began. There was absolute silence as people looked at the exhibits.
We were back to Dariusz for supper and pretty exhausted so after chatting for a while turned in for the night.