An Anniversary Remembered

Letter From Poland

On Saturday, July 10, 2004, my cousin and I drove from Ciechocinek to Czestochowa, to attend a celebration of her grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. Ciechocinek is a spa and resort town about 200 kilometers northwest of Warsaw, Poland. Before the trip began, she had to stop by the aesthetics studio (a type of spa) she manages, which lies near the market square, adjacent to the town's main bookstore. We set off early in the morning in her elegant Peugeot 206, along with her purebred West Highland terrier. It was a hot, sunny day, and we were headed southwest, toward Lodz, the second-largest city in Poland. A superhighway system has yet to be built in Poland, which means that most driving takes place on two-lane highways, where passing plodding trucks or cars is fairly perilous, requiring superb driving skills.

We had to drive through downtown Lodz to reach the southern highway exit. I saw the beautifully restored palaces that had once mostly belonged to Jewish factory owners. The city had been heavily Jewish before World War II. The Poles have respected the city's Jewish heritage, remembering the holocaust, for example, in very solemn ceremonies memorializing the destruction of the Lodz Ghetto by the German occupiers. For several years, Lodz has also hosted an arts festival, "The Dialogue of Four Cultures"—Polish, Jewish, German, and Russian. Before 1939, most of the Jewish population in Poland had...

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