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Płaszów, July 2004

In the summer of 2004 I made my first trip to Poland.  I had volunteered to work on an excavation for a month in Krakow at the site of Płaszów, a former Nazi labor camp built atop three Jewish cemeteries.  I was taking part in a reclamation project, organized by a foundation from the City of Krakow and the Jewish community.  The goal of the project was to make Płaszów into a memorial park with a museum devoted to the horrors that had taken place there.  The Nazis had built the camp barracks on top of the cemeteries and had used the gravestones as a foundation for the barracks.  The headstones (Matzevas) had been destroyed or had been removed from the graves and used to construct roadways at a quary where the prisoners worked.  At that time, on my first voyage to Poland, it was important for me to be engaged in this work  in an all-consuming way.  In my days off I proceeded to explore my own story and began researching for information about the whereabouts of my parents during the Holocaust, and of their immediate family members, who had all disappeared.

This was the beginning of what will become a decade of my wonderings, mostly in Poland and Ukraine: to learn about what remained of the places, the survivors, their families and in a more general way - what did Jewish presence look like today in this part Eastern Europe.