We came across a wonderful story about the Krakow pharmacist. When the Nazis created the ghetto on 3 March 1941, all Jews and all Jewish institutions moved there. They called it "the Jewish residential district." When the Jews resettled into the area on the 20th, all Poles left the area, except Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who refused to move his pharmacy, the Eagle Pharmacy. He had been detained by the Germans for two months in Montelup prison. Even though he was offered by the Germans to move to a formerly owned Jewish pharmacy in the city centre, he argued that he would have to return property to the original owner at the war's end. Others felt that he did not have to stay but chose to do so for humanitarian reasons. He expanded his staff into a strong team who endured the hardship of working in the ghetto. While the other workers used their passes to leave the ghetto after the work day, he often stayed for the night shift. Moreover, he kept it available to people day and night. Also it became a meeting place for the exchange of information, or for listening to music. As one Jew recalled it was: "an embassy, a place representing the world outside in the walled and barred town..."
It was in Krakow, Debbie recalls, that we saw the first "former" synagogue turned into a museum.
We also passed a number of large posters and billboards announcing the upcoming film about Pope John Paul II with John Voight in the title role. The only other place we've seen (or would see) any mention of the film would be in Warsaw.
As we left the city, crossing the Vistula river (which we had first encountered as a tiny stream east of Oswiecim the day before) we remarked on how lovely the city is there with stretches of green parkland below the street level, along the water.
All along the few hundred kilometer drive from Krakow to Warsaw I saw innumerable buildings labeled "Karczma". I don't know the exact translation of the word, but, from what I saw along the road and the context of the song, which continues:
...drinking vodka every night!
I can surmise that a Karczma is a bar.
I kept singing the (Theodore Bikel) song all the way north. But I never stopped in.
It was clear from the little color in the foliage that we were headed further north to what would also be the eastern-most point of our travels.
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