Growing up we had a box of very old photos in a closet; some not identified. After my father passed away, I took some solace in my research of the family, maybe feeling a bit closer to him as I learned the details of our lineage… Over time I was able to identify them (the people in the photographs), learn of their horrific fate, understand the history that would trap them, see where they took their last steps---and who was beside them when they died.
This has been a journey for me that has spanned several decades. I know now, not just their names, but of their beauty and hope; hope they clung to even as the executioner pressed against their door. They wore faces of beauty and grace as they confronted a despicable evil. I know them; their story and am now able to document their lives to my family; they were not erased, they were not obliterated. We all now know.
These were my thoughts and reflections as I stood for the first time on the land of my Polish ancestral cemetery in Przasnysz; 35 years of research got me to that site in 2019; the grounds were unkempt, overgrown, filthy from dumped trash; roads trisecting this holy place, almost completely bereft of matzevot…. Standing there I knew I needed to act; “If not me then who, if not now then when?”
So the journey changed direction yet again; and so it continues today.