The Empty Chair

You are most likely sitting in a chair right now. What color is it? What shape? Did it belong to your great grandmother, who nursed all 8 of her children in it.  Could you pick it up and carry it with you?

If you were told, you must move NOW….what would you bring?

The Krakow Ghetto was created on 3 March 1941, displacing Jews and Non-Jews from their homes without warning.

Today, very little visible sign of the original ghetto remains. There’s a plaque placed on part of the former ghetto wall:

“Here they lived, suffered and perished at the hands of Hitler’s executioners. From here they began their final journey to the death camps.”

My friend made sure that we visited the Krakow Pharmacy, run by a the legendary Polish chemist Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who was awarded the ‘Righteous Among Gentiles’ distinction by the Israelis.  This non Jew refused to leave when the ghetto was created, and wrote a memoir regarding the Ghetto life. I just finished reading a scene regarding how the people tried to burn their furs before they were confiscated, and the humor in such a frightening act surprised me.

This is my best shot of Krakow (from my IPHONE, sorry!) It is the memorial located at Plac Bohaterow Getta.  All it is…arranged empty chairs on an empty main square. The inspiration and reason behind this design was the witness account from Pankiewicz’s book, how he described a scene during the ghetto’s ultimate liquidation, where furniture and belongings left behind as  a reminder: There was life here. There were homes.

What does this empty chair say to you?

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5 thoughts on “The Empty Chair

  1. I really want to go visit there. Being Jewish it obviously has a certain meaning to me and I want to be able to experience the history behind it. As for chairs, I wish I had a better one. Ours was provided by the military and that empty chair is calling my name right now!

  2. wow. that is a powerful picture. i’d love to visit the area someday. i’ve been obsessed with learning about the holocaust since i was little.

    as for the chair i’m in now…it’s college issue. so uncomfy. i wish i was in my half circle chair but i’m sweaty and gross and i don’t want to make it icky haha

  3. It’s a chilling photo. I think it is important for the next generations to not forget. As you said: there was life there. We have to move on but at the same time, we have to learn from the past.
    I enjoyed reading this post.

  4. Great post! Thanks for sharing! I recently went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and they also have empty chairs in honor of the people that suffered there. Like Shannon also said, this post made me pause and reflect: I feel blessed that that the chair that I’m sitting on is not empty.

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