Thankfully we made it safely to Warsaw!!! The weather was way better than expected. We were first taken to Okopowa Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery which had some of the most beautiful tombstones I’ve ever seen and the only green space that was left during Warsaw during World War II. There are 150,000 tombstones in the cemetery, but there’s also a mass grave for the 80,000 Jews that died from starvation in the Warsaw ghetto. It was hard to hear some of the stories our tour guide was telling us, but it was really meaningful to be standing there in what used to be a part of the ghetto and trying to imagine what life was like.
Afterwards, we ate lunch outdoors and toured the only Synagogue of Warsaw that wasn’t destroyed during the war, which amazingly is still an active synagogue today. We saw the memorial to the Umschlagplatz, the place where the Warsaw Jews were rounded up from the ghetto and shipped to Treblinka, as well a memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. Our tour guide Peppi told us a lot of stories that were hard to hear, but they were intertwined with stories of hope and resistance. Overall, we were pretty tired, but it was a pretty meaningful day. We can’t wait to experience what’s to come.
-Jonathon Mason, Walnut Hills High School