{Janet’s Germany} Auschwitz

‘work sets you free’

selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_01Auschwitz was a network of three main labor/extermination camps and 45 satellite camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. We visited Auschwitz I.
selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_02From Wiki:

Auschwitz was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish.

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Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and tens of thousands of others of diverse nationalities, including an unknown number of homosexuals. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_04The SS officer who did role call had his own little hut to stand in, outside of inclement weather while the prisoners stood out in the elements.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_05Janet and I discussed how unfair it seemed that a place that housed such evil could be so beautiful, and even in the haunting silence some places there was even a peace. But yet, somehow – good will come out of this evil.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_06A memorial was resurrected at the back of Auschwitz I for people to pay respects to the victims of Auschwitz. A place of silence, there were candles burning and a bouquet of red carnations. We both left a stone in the memorial as in the Jewish tradition to signify that we honored the deceased person’s memory with a visit to the grave.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_07Even now, I am overwhelmed by the enormity of evil that happened in this place, that time period. If I had been alive then, which side of the Holocaust would I have fallen? Would I have blindly followed Hitler, agreeing with him, or obeyed in fear? Or would I have silently stood up to him by hiding and helping Jews and other people the Third Reich sought to exterminate? selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_08I cannot think on that too long – it shreds my heart. I will never know, unless I live through something like that. I pray that if I do, I have the strength and courage of Jesus Christ to do what is right and not give in to the reigning terror.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_09Here are the train tracks that brought prison at Auschwitz. Today they are covered in daisies, forget-me-nots, and a variety of other wild flowers. selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_10I have decided to not post much about the history of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau (which we didn’t have a chance to visit). Here are some different resources to read if you wish to know more history about the camps.

Auschwitz DE
Auschwitz PL
Jewish Virtual Library
Wikipedia
PBS

How blessed the man you train, God,
    the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
    while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
    never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
    and every good heart put right.
Psalm 94:12-15

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{Janet’s Germany} Weekend in Poland

selah_candace_rose_poland_1The drive to Kraków was long and beautiful, with a KFC every few miles! The bridges were fantastic and the forests dark and mysterious. Clouds kept the drive from getting too hot and added interest to the drive. We spent the weekend in Kraków. There was so much to see there we didn’t explore anything else. selah_candace_rose_poland_2Our host’s dogs, Onyx and Amber, like to play soccer with their ball! Onyx is good keeping the ball going and Amber is good at chasing Onyx and cheering her on. selah_candace_rose_poland_3Lori took us into Kraków for a short tour the evening we arrived. Kraków started as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and is the second largest, and one of the oldest city in Poland. It dates back to sometime int he 7th century! By 965 it was reported as a busy trading center in Europe.selah_candace_rose_poland_Following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 by Nazi Germany, Kraków became part of the Nazi’s General Government and eventually its capital. It was headed by Hans Frank who was based in Wawel Castle. The Nazis envisioned turning Kraków into a completely German city after removing all Jews and Poles. selah_candace_rose_poland-1Legend says women saved this portion of old city walls from being destroyed by the men. They told the men that if this wall were taken down, the wind would gust through the market square and lift the ladies’ skirts on their way to church, thus embarrassing the women and making the men think badly of them. So the men did not tear down this wall. This is how the women saved the wall of Kraków. selah_candace_rose_poland-2There are roughly 120 churches registered in Kraków. We walked by many, and went into only two (St. Mary’s Basilica and the other were a wedding was taking place, so no pictures were allowed). selah_candace_rose_poland-3 Cloth Hall was originally designed in the 14th century as a center for international trade. The ground floor is continually used for commerce with its many souvenir shops and cafés; upstairs houses the Gallery of the National Museum. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.selah_candace_rose_poland-4We did not spend much time at Wawel Castle because we had so many other things to see, but it was lovely! And the other tourists were a HOOT to watch!selah_candace_rose_poland-5Legend tells about a dragon, Smok Wawelski, who was terrorizing Kraków during the reign of King Krakus, the city’s legendary founder. Each day the evil dragon would reign down destruction across the countryside, killing the civilians and devouring their livestock. The king wanted to put an end to the dragon, but his bravest knights failed. In desperation, the King promised his beautiful daughter Wanda’s hand in marriage to anyone who could defeat the dragon. Great warriors from near and far fought for the prize and failed. One day a poor cobbler grew tired of the ongoing terror. He stuffed a lamb with sulfur and set it outside the dragon’s cave. The dragon ate it and became incredibly thirsty. He turned to the Vistula River for relief and drank and drank, but no amount of water could quench his aching stomach and after swelling up from drinking half the Vistula river, he exploded. The cobbler refused the princess’s hand in marriage because his wife would not be happy. Read more legend versions about the dragon here. selah_candace_rose_poland-6During the reign of Casimir III the Great (1333 to 1370), St. Mary’s Basilica was rebuilt on the remaining foundation of an earlier church destroyed in the Mongol invasion. Vicar Jacek Augustyn Łopacki had the interior rebuilt in the late Baroque style in the 18th century.selah_candace_rose_poland-7Legend says two brothers were hired to design and build St. Mary’s Basilica towers, but they wouldn’t work together. This is why each tower is different. The brother who built the shorter tower was jealous of the other’s tower so killed him. The knife hangs in an arch in the Cloth Market across the square.selah_candace_rose_poland_2

Every hour a fire fighter climbs to the top of the main tower to sound a trumpet call, the Hejnał mariacki. The melody is plaintive and historically was played to signal the open and close of the city gates. It stops unexpectedly mid-stream to salute the famous 13th century guard who was shot in the throat by an arrow while playing the tune to warn the city of the coming Tatar invasion.selah_candace_rose_poland-8

The extravagant Altarpiece is the largest Gothic altar piece and a national Polish treasure. It was designed and carved out of lime (linden), oak, and larch wood by Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz) between 1477 and 1484. During the German occupation, the altarpiece was dismantled and shipped to the Third Reich on order of Hans Frank. It was sent to Nuremberg Castle in Bavaria, where it survived heavy bombing to be recovered and returned to Poland in 1946. It underwent major restoration and was put back in its place at the Basilica 10 years later.

Julia took us to the Jewish Quarter where we saw a few Synagogues and an ancient Jewish cemetery. I learned how in the Jewish culture, stones are left on the headstones to tell the family that someone stopped by to pay respects. selah_candace_rose_poland-9And thus ended our tour through Kraków. The next day we went back to do our tourist-ly duty of shopping and souvenir buying before we drove to Auschwitz, which I am posting about next week.

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{Springbrook} Erickson Family

One sunny Autumn day, three rambunctious boys, a baby, and a set of parents went exploring the winding trails of Springbrook Nature Center. There was dancing, jumping, frog and turtle hunting, chasing each other, and tree climbing.kandihamble-erickson-family-1This family is a blessing in more ways then 6, and they love to invite others into their 4-boy-2-dog-action-packed crazies. The good kind of crazy that keeps you on your toes and slathers love on everyone within reach and pulls out a smile of even the worst kind of day – maybe even a full on laugh!kandihamble-erickson-family-2 They have their share of troubles just like the next family, but that doesn’t stop them from loving well and staying on the go with four busy and growing boys, all of whom can now walk! kandihamble-erickson-family-3Getting such a family may be hard to get everyone still and looking at the camera long enough to get a ‘picture perfect’ Kodak moment, but the pictures are more real, more Them. kandihamble-erickson-family-4J1 likes exploring and learning and giving hugs. His smile lights up the room and can melt hearts of stone. His generous heart is selfless and honest and loyal. He has a LOT to say and will share what’s on his mind to anyone who will listen. He is a helper, go-getter, and includer.

J2 has an innocent grin, but his eye warn of mischief – if you’re paying attention! His love of reading is equal to his love for his family. He likes to bake and paint and play Minecraft when his nose isn’t stuck in any book that catches his eye. He is a laugh a minute and says many crazy things which gets everyone laughing! He is smart and charming and creative.kandihamble-erickson-family-5J3 is the MOST active boy I have ever known. He needs to move the way J1 needs to talk! He is super curious and is so loving. He loves to give hugs, and sometimes will almost sit still to have a book read to him. The only one with brown eyes in the family, he can look at you and melt your heart. While J2 has hidden mischief, J3’s mischief is all out in the open for everyone to see, enjoy, and sometimes shake their head at. He loves playing games and painting (at least when I go over!).

J4 is a bright miracle and bundle of laughs. His personality is really beginning to shine. He has just decided to walk and soon will be getting into everything. He is a LOT like J1 when he was a baby, but yet so different! His grin is so big and cheerful it’s hard to stay sad around him. He likes giving kisses and snuggling when he isn’t too busy chasing after his big brothers or the dogs. He knows that pop is good and fudge is delectable. When he’s done eating he feeds the dogs – so they never go hungry.

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