Tomek, Andrzej and Lina pick us up at the hotel and walk us to their school. Lina is an English teacher and a colleague of Tomek and Andrzej. She has joined the group to translate today. We walk by ul. Parkowa 18 (Parkstraße 18) where Asher’s grandmother lived until 1939.
The head master of the school Mr. Jacek Pietroszek welcomes us warmly, obviously proud of Tomek’s and Andrzej’s dedication to teach their pupils about the Jewish heritage of Silesia and their commitment to maintain the Jewish cemetery of Staedtel. We all agree that their dedication is quite remarkable.
left to right: Lina, Annie, Klaus, Katherine, Jacek Pietroszek, Brigitte, Bernadette, Mishka, Asher and Ann
The reception in the school is followed by a reception at the new town hall. Mr. Julian Kruszyński, Mayor of Namisłow, welcomes us cordially in the assembly hall of the city council under the Polish coat of arms, the crowned eagle, and the Namysłows city arms, the black (Silesian) eagle and a red star.
center (under the Polish crest of arms): Julian Kruszyński, Mayor of Namisłow
Dr. Jan-Paweł Woronczak (department of Jewish Studies at the Wrocław University) tells us about the research of his late father Prof. Jerzy Woronczak on the Staedtel cemetery.
Dr. Jan-Paweł Woronczak
Prof. Jerzy Woronczak and his students inventoried the headstones, transcribed and translated the inscriptions, a thankworthy undertaking whose results still wait for publication. Dr. Jan-Paweł Woronczak stressed the necessity of verifying the transcriptions and translation before publicizing the texts.
Finally we are on our way to the cemetery of Staedtel, the biggest Jewish cemetery in rural Silesia. We are accompanied by three pupils, who are involved in the cemetery project. They prepared a short welcoming ceremony in Polish and English.
left to right: Ewelina Gwiazda, Iwona Helwin und Daniel Załuski of the Zespół Szkół Rolniczych welcome us at the Staedtel cemetery
The priest of the neighboring community of Świerczów joins us for a short inter-religious prayer.
right to left: Natalia Michta, Ksiądz Dziekan Krzysztof Szczeciński and I
Then we are left to ourselves to explore the cemetery. Mishka has brought white fabric and rubbing wax to make headstone rubbings. The results are amazing. The rubbings make the inscriptions far more easily readable.
Practicing the fine art of headstone rubbing
With Jan-Paweł Woronczak’s aide Ann retrieves the (broken) headstone of one of her ancestors on the single-u side. She even manages a provisional “reconstruction”.
Brigitte and Jim reassembling a broken headstone of a Laquer-Ancestor
A common kaddish at the Rabbi’s grave concludes our visit.
It’s almost 3:00 pm when we arrive at a beautiful inn for late lunch in Pokój. We learn to appreciate the ever-present pierogi, dumplings with various fillings (russki – mashed potatoes and cheese, z mięsem – with minced meat, there are also varieties with cabbage or mushrooms)
Duke Carl Christian Erdmann von Württemberg-Oels founded Carlsruhe in 1748 as his summer residence. The protestant Baroque Sophia’s Church (Sophienkirche) was built in the years 1765 to 1775. The local Protestant minister, whose minority congregation is widely spread over Upper Silesia, shows us the church.
Pokój, S. Sphia’s Church – baroque altar
Whereas the Duke’s palace was completely destroyed by the Red Army in 1945, the church was spared after WWII. It also serves as the venue for the annual Carl Maria von Weber festival. The composer stayed in Carlsruhe in 1806/1807.
A late dinner and a good draught Samkowa conclude the day. Unfortunately it was already time to say good-bye to Andrzej and Natalia.