Scars of the past


London to Ho Chi Minh by train (and boat!): Day 6.

Like with so many things in this city, beauty can hide a dark past. We walked around the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto today. Amongst the post-war apartment blocks and pretty parks a modernist museum tells the story of the city’s Jewish people as they went from being an integral part of city life to being rounded up as sheep and sent to deathcamps. Nothing remains of what was once the Jewish center of Warsaw.

This picture shows The Palace of Culture and Science. The building was a gift from Stalin who apparently enjoyed impressive architecture much as he liked killing and deporting hundreds of thousands of Poles.

Although his name has been removed from the building, it remains a reminder of harder times and even today many of the city’s residents find it difficult to love one of its most widely recognized symbols. (I felt a little awkward taking a picture).

A beautiful, chilled and arty city (with more vegan restaurants than I’ve ever seen in one place!), Warsaw seems to be moving forwards, away from a difficult past. And yet you can still feel it in the air as though it’s a reminder to other nations that it takes a really, really long time to get over the scars inflicted through racism, fascism and nationalist politics. Europe today (and much of the rest of the world) should take note…

Next stop: Minsk — in Warsaw, Poland.

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