Czesław our bus driver picks us up at the Hotel Europejski. The almost constantly dying engine lets me fear the worst for the days to come. But the electronics miraculously recover and we arrive at the Hotel Zorza (Dawn) in Namysłow on time. Tomas, who is called Tomek by all his friends, Andrzej and a charming young lady are waiting for us. The young lady is introduced as Natalia, our translator for today. She turns out to be Andrzej’s daughter.
Her job is a really challenging one. We are received by the Vice-Starosta Bartłomiej Stawiarski (vice-chairperson of the local council) of the county of Namysłow. He and the secretary, Ms. Alina Białas give a lot of information on the administrative structures in Poland in general and in the county of Namysłow in particular.
Front row left to right:
Asher Israel (kneeling), Vice-Starosta Bartłomiej Stawiarski, Ann Estin, Katherine Laqueur, Brigitte Faller and Mishka Luft
Back row left to right:
Andrzej Michta, Natalia Michta, Tomasz (Tomek) Soja, Bernadette Laqueur, Alina Białas, Jim Estin, Andreas Laqueur
I don’t envy Natalia for her translating task but she manages bravely. What was the most impressive part of this reception? I’m sure most members of the group will agree with my answer “Silesian poppy-seed cake”. It’s simply delicious. In the meantime, Gudrun, Annie and Klaus reach Namysłow and complete our party
Ms Jadwiga Kawecka, director of the local cultural centre, welcomes us at the Brama Krakowska, the Krakow Gate of the old city walls. The tower we climb is one of the last remaining of originally 54 towers of the medieval fortification and offers a beautiful view over Namysłow.
The old city of Namysłow, view from the Brama Krakowska (Krakow Gate)
We are shown two major attractions of present-day Namysłow, the ice cream factory offering kosher ice cream among its products and the local famous brewery. Since the brewery is located in the local medieval palace (Polish: Zamek) the beer is called Zamkowa.
The history of Jews in Namslau dates back to the 14th century where they remained for two centuries. In the wake of the Swedish-Polish war all Jews were either murdered or evicted in 1582. Jews returned to Namslau at the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763. In 1856 the Jewish community built a synagogue in the Bahnhofstrasse (today ul. Dubois) where it still can be found. In the late 19th century there are 239 Jews in Namslau, almost 6% of the total population. The majority will eventually migrate to Breslau, Berlin or other bigger cities. In 1939 only 16 Jews were registered in Namslau.
The little museum shows an impressive collection of handicraft, art work paintings and photographs of local artists.
After dinner we consult family trees, read and translate old documents and exchange family memories. The local super market down the road is open till 10 pm and provides a variety of drinks (wines, local beers etc.)