My visit to Częstochowa

For a long time I have been looking forward to visiting Częstechowa. This wish has been reinforced after I had heard a story about a good friend’s story whose father was in Treblinka and made it as he had participated in the upraising and succeeded in escaping. This is a town that has a special importance for the Poles because of the Black Madonna saving the Poles on different occasions.

Częstochowa has a wonderful Jewish Museum – small but very informative and well presented. As one can imagine I was the only visitor with an extremely high interest in the exhibition. The woman working there was very helpful with the location of several places and gave me a little booklet about Jewish places in Częstochowa for free. For me things like this little booklet are like little diamonds.

The Museum gives detailed information about Jewish life in town: chronologically and in different subjects. The exhibition was designed by former Jewish inhabitants and Holocaust survivors like Samuel Willenberg who created a sculpture “Father helping his son take off his shoes”. It was not only this exhibition but also the powerful Holocaust Memorial on ulica Strażacka 19 created by the same Samuel Willenberg which was initiated by the World Committee of the Jews of Częstochowa and their descendants. Near to it I saw a plastic sheet fencing some ruins and bushes and depicting orthodox Jews marching towards the train (while people on black background).

I have no idea and could not get any information about when and by whom this fence had been put up. While I was taking pictures all of a sudden a young man – hard to say how old he was but I guess a teenager – came and sat down on the bench in front of the memorial playing with his mobile phone leaving the memorial behind his back. Who at all takes note of all these places, who is coming to see them and what does the local population thinks of them?
I was overwhelmed by the poem at the wall to the ruins of the former Pelcery factory where Jews worked as forced laborers.

The poem was written by an unknown in the Ghetto in 1941:

I am a human being
From tomorrow on I will be sad tomorrow
Today nevertheless I am happy
Why to be sad why?
Because of so much unfavorable wind?
Therefore I have to worry about tomorrow?
Maybe tomorrow the sky will clear up
Maybe the sun will already shine
And there won’t be any reason to be sad
From tomorrow on I will be sad tomorrow
But today, today I am happy
And tell every sad day
From tomorrow on I will be sad tomorrow
Not today

I left Częstochowa with a sad feeling because once more I realised that also this Jewish community dating back to 1620 and 1631 is completely gone. Jews will not come back.

If possible stay overnight because there is quite a lot to see especially if you plan to visit the Jewish cemetery which is hard to find and a bit further away from downtown. In case you have only one day we should focus on the highlights.

September 2018