April 10, 2010
My friends and I and woke up early on Saturday morning to take a guided tour of Terezin, a city 45 minutes from Prague where the former World War II concentration camp lies, a place where thousands and thousands of Czech Jews, many of them children, awaited deportation to Auschwitz or were killed.
After our guide showed us the Jewish cemetery, which is the resting place for some 9,000 from the camp, he told us that the president of Poland, his wife, and many other top Polish officials had been killed in a plane crash on their way to a memorial in Katyn, Russia to commemorate the massacre that killed 20,000 Polish per the orders of Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin.
On the ride back to Prague, I clicked between The New York Times and CNN on my BlackBerry to learn what happened. When I got back to my dorm I went to the TV room and flipped through CNN, SkyNews and BBC to hear Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk declare the plane crash the “most tragic event of the country’s post-war history.”
I wrote to a friend on Facebook, an accountant in Warsaw, sending my sympathy, asking her what the city was like, and I told her how it must feel like 9/11 in New York City.
One of the popular places to travel to while studying here in Prague is the Czech Republic’s neighbor, Poland, a country that will now be changed forever.
Photo: Terezin Cemetary, Prague, Czech Republic, courtesy Natan Edelsburg. Edelsburg, a junior in Steinhardt’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication is studying this spring semester in Steinhardt’s study abroad program in Prague.