Our journey to Poland this summer was unsurprisingly rich in emotions. Since I ruiled Bielsko-Biala in 2000 for Amsterdam I often wonder: how would it be if I stayed in my country? What would I be doing? Hoe would my life look like?
What ifs are counter productive. I cannot stay in a hypothetical non-reality.
Among many interesting places I visited an old Jewish cemetery in Czestochowa.
I grew up in the area and spent all my summer holidays there up till the age of 16. Still, I had no idea there was such an amazing place close by.
After doing some research it turned out that the cemetery was flourishing till WW II and afterwards it slipped slowly into oblivion. For a number of years it was property of the industrial plant Huta Czestochowa but later it became accessible to the public. Now it appears overgrown with trees and ivy.
It is more of a forest than cemetery although old glory is still visible. As we walked between overturned or slanted tombstones covered with ivy and moss, in twilight a melancholic atmosphere descended on us. It must have been a beautiful, rich place once with elaborate graves of prominent Jewish citizens. And now? A maze of ivy framing almost illegible inscriptions in Hebrew or Polish.
Yet some of the tombstones remained, still vertical in relatively good shape bearing witness to what has once been.
A world that has disappeared….
As we were driving back home on the busy highway towards Katowice I could not but continue thinking. This cemetery has been here all the time: when I was born, when I spent my holidays nearby, when I went to school and later to the university. When I was working and later moved to Amsterdam. The war did not wipe it out completely neither the communist rule did. It seemed as if time stood still there in the Jewish cemetery while I was living my life. And now I paid a short visit during our summer holiday. What is the link between my life and this strangely beautiful place? I do not know….I only know it touched me almost to tears.