THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Travelling broadens the mind again
The road of life

On the Polish road without Speranza

Tributes to the fallen of the Warsaw Uprising on the streets after the recent anniversary

I couldn't spare the time to drive on this trip to I am reduced to planes and coaches. I am touring Poland for the next nine days with an organisation called The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland. A friend of mine - a former colleague from my days working in Poland from 1992 - 2003 - is the CEO of the Foundation and is leading a tour to show 55 visitors (including some of the donors who made its work possible) what it has achieved.

For centuries many of the Jewish people lived in Poland. They came because, at a time when nowhere in Europe was safe from pogroms, King Kazimierz the Great offered them a place of safety. They lived under legal disabilities and were never fully accepted as Polish (I used to joke when I lived here - "How does a Jew become Polish? He wins a Nobel Prize") but they were relatively safe, at least compared to their other options.

All that ended with the Holocaust. In the wake of the horror many synagogues, yeshivas, cemeteries and other Jewish buildings were destroyed. After the war, most of those who didn't die in the Shoah fled. This Foundation, and other charities, is trying to recover at least some of the heritage and to restore the Jewish peoples' rightful place in Polish history.

When my friend told me about the tour I decided to go along. I have no personal place in this story but I have Jewish friends, support the State of Israel and love the idea of reconciliation that underlies this project. The Foundation could not have achieved its goals without the support of Poles, their local government institutions and the Catholic Church.  Our group includes people from 18 nations, not least of which is Germany. It contains Christians, Jews and others united in a desire to put this dark history in its place - not forgotten but behind us.

Of course this trip also allows me an opportunity to follow two pieces of advice I have been given in my photographic studies. Firstly, if you want to take better pictures, "stand in front of some more interesting stuff". Secondly "show me a picture I have never seen before". 

I will be posting pictures here as the tour proceeds. And all the pictures (including random portraits of friends I meet along the way) can be seen here.