This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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When “today” has turned into “once”

Krakow-7“Never follow”, the text says in the sea of heads (down to the left). Never give in when someone imposes their beliefs and ways over yours. Never follow a voice just because it is loud.

As I strolled the leafy green, sunny, quiet streets of the Kazimierz quarters, it was impossible to understand that out of 67,000 Jewish people once living there, only a few survived. Today in Kazimierz, those of Jewish faith amount to 1,000. 

But the old synagogue still stands, and so do the gravestones. The stones were briefly buried under, to protect the sacred site. On a sunny day like today it is incredible that anything else ever happened here except for birds singing and people slowly walking between the graves, sometimes leaving a scrap of paper with scribbles, or a little pebble, on a loved one’s memory place.

When “today” has turned into “once, a long time ago”, it should stay that way, too. While we still remember and hopefully have learned how to build a better future, grass has literally grown over the graves and it is a good thing, too.Kazimierz-1(Kazimierz, Krakow, Poland; July 2015)

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This is life

Krakow-2 After all that passed, Krakow is still splendid.  There are still gorgeous houses, a formidable castle, and beautifully dressed horses with feathers and tassels, pulling shining, white carriages.Krakow-6A lot of beautiful horses in feathers and tassels. And jazz music at the market square at night.Krakow-1After all that passed, Krakow also has a rough edge to the splendor. So many houses awaiting for their turn to be cared for, many with broken windows and holes in the walls, reminders of grenade shrapnel or gun shots. This edge is not ugliness – it is endurance and battle scars. My home town has them as well, albeit not so prominent anymore.Kazimierz-2After all that passed, people have the time to draw art on house walls again.Kazimierz-3And despite (or because?) of all that passed, people still celebrate love, by attaching padlocks to the bridge over the river Wisla.

And perhaps because of all that passed, people also celebrate separation, in the dead of night, by cutting the mesh open to remove the lock and throwing it into the river. Time will tell whether there will be more padlocks than gaping holes on the bridge.Kazimierz-4(Krakow, Poland; July 2015)