All posts tagged: Poland

Dr. Hope

By EMILY CATANEO 

dr. hope 

Białystok, Poland

Nine hours to Białystok from Berlin, to a city teetering on the Polish border. The train noses through fields of yellow flowers, which to me are eternal reminders of Europe in spring, but which are actually new additions, planted in recent decades for the rapeseed harvest. On the way to Warsaw, we sit in a car with a classical musician, our age, with a confident nose and sculpted, striking eyebrows. “She looks like Anna Karenina,” we whisper. She tells us about witches in Podlachia, because we are going to Podlachia. Past Warsaw, on a hotter train, portly men in cheap suits flank the compartment, carrying the odor of polyester, sweat, spirits.

I’ve brought us east to find traces of that universal language, Esperanto, created by a man from Bialystok named L.L. Zamenhof, a Jewish man, born here when this land was Russian Empire. Legend says he went to the city market as a child, eavesdropped on Yiddish, Russian, German, concluded that division by language was the great tragedy of mankind. What if we all spoke the same tongue? Wouldn’t pogrom and war fall away? He gathered 28 Latin letters, prefixes and suffixes, and he tried to share this with the world, and they called him Dr. Hope.

Dr. Hope
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View with a Grain of Salt

By CHRIS WIEWIORA

salt mine

 

Underground, you expected a loamy smell. Instead you inhale a dry, metallic breeze. The English-speaking Polish guide tells your tour group that the mine’s temperature holds at 57ºF despite the 80º May day above in Krakow. You zip up your jacket before you descend the stairs cut out of salt.

View with a Grain of Salt
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The Woods Behind the Palace Park

By IZA WOJCIECHOWSKA

There is a palace in a tiny rural village two hours west of Warsaw, with an orange mansard roof, two spired towers, and a park stretching beyond it. It is strange to think that in the 1940s, when war was grinding Poland into the ground, the palace still belonged to the prominent Radziwiłł family, who shared it with Nazis while members of the underground Home Army, villagers, hid in the woods behind the palace park. Here, planes dropped packages into a clearing among alders, cherries, and pines. They’d drop food or weapons, which the villagers distributed or took to Warsaw, and sometimes they’d drop men.

The Woods Behind the Palace Park
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