Warsaw is not just another city.
Before we went downtown, we took the Lee's children Steven and Madelyn to their school. They go to American School which has about 950 students. It was a modern and impressive school. From there we headed about ten miles to downtown Warsaw.
Warsaw was 90% destroyed in World War II. Probably only Stalingrad suffered such devastation. American generals who saw Stalingrad after World War II said that it was not possible or practical to rebuild Stalingrad. But, it was rebuilt. The same with Warsaw. Hitler wanted the city destroyed and ALL its people killed and it be left as a geographic and historic footnote. 670,000 people died in Warsaw. Little do absolute dictators realize the will of people to be free and sacrifice for their freedom. Today Warsaw is a bustling city of 1.7 million people with many modern buildings. All you see is either from Poland when it was behind the Iron Curtain or what has been done since independence in 1989.
Poland suffered additionally as 1/6 of its population, six million people were Jews. Most died in the Holocaust.
Karen Lee arranged for this memorable visit to the Uprising Museum through her association in the AFW which is the American Friends of Warsaw. We were on a group tour lasting an hour and a half led by a passionate Pole by the name of Michael.
The Uprising Museum told the story of events at the World War II historically and graphically. As we were led from room to room we followed what happened chronologically and by the kinds of resistance that took place. It showed the entire population resisting the Germans with inadequate supplies, food and everything else. It told the story of dealing with the impossible.
Poland was actually quite a bit bigger before World War II than it is now. Russia took about one-third of its territory after the War. My father was actually born in Polish territory in what is now Ukraine. It was interesting to see my father's birthplace on a big Polish pre-war map. Also, it was interesting to see that the areas of Transcarpathia that we just visited also under Polish administration. Poland was "compensated" for the lost territory by being given parts of Germany in the West. Karen Lee's father was from this part of Germany that is now Poland.
The human experience of all people is so painful. We are animals that seek, sometimes with no evil intent to dominate and control other people. Why? Because we are wiser, better, more intelligent, purer....on and on. Sometimes the domination is for the control of resources. And, national pride blinds a nation to the rights and freedoms of others James 4:1-6 in the Bible points out so well.
After the museum tour Karen, Bev and I went to an Italian restaurant and then back to their home in southeast Warsaw.
In the evening acquaintances from long ago in Pasadena came by.
It was Joe Constantino and his wife Paula along with their ten year-old daughter Francesca. Joe Constantino was producer of the World Tomorrow television program in Pasadena in the 1980's and early 1990's. He and his wife Paula now work at the American Embassy in Warsaw. We had a very interesting conversation about their work in the Embassy and about our old days working for the Worldwide Church of God.
The Constantino's are going to be transferred to the American Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria this summer.
Another very interesting day. Tomorrow is our last full day in Poland before we go on to Latvia on Friday morning. Our visit with the Lee's is very enjoyable and we find it very comfortable in their home.
After the Constantino's left we watched a video clip of our new President Barak Obama's speech at the Inauguration. On this trip we've missed the Inauguration and will also miss the Super Bowl!
Uprising Museum, Joe and Paula Constantino
Wednesday, January 21, 2009