By Carrie Gress, Ph.D.
During my first trip to Krakow nearly twenty years ago, as the train rattled through Austria toward the Polish border, the thought came to mind that these tracks were likely the same used to transport the Jews and other so-called enemies of the Nazi state to Auschwitz. When the air conditioning went out that warm day in late June, I could scarcely muster a complaint thinking of the terrifying conditions others had experienced in boxcars on the way to meet their death five decades before. Like most Americans without Polish ancestry, my knowledge of Poland was limited to Pope John Paul II, the movie Schindler’s List and a few stray details about life behind the Iron Curtain. Little did I realize then, as that hot train rattled along, the fascinating and enchanting world I was about to discover.