Notes From Poland - My Trip to Poland and the Breaking of Communism

My husband and I decided to visit Poland back in 1993. Andrew was originally from Poland but I had never been there. Communism had just ended and the whole country was in a strange turmoil. I could sense it; the Polish people were in a hurry to westernize their country. There was a feeling of trauma and relief throughout the country. I witnessed scenes of beauty and scenes of horror.

June 23, 1993: We were stopped by the police again today, but Ella (this was a friend that we were driving with) told them that she was a doctor and this was an emergency! Ella was in a fact a doctor: a dermatologist. That's the fourth time we've been stopped by the police since we arrived in Poland. Everybody seems paranoid! They stop you on the road for no reason, just to check you out.

Today on the train, Andrew slipped off to the washroom and I was sitting across from my father-in-law who had his eyes closed and was enjoying a short nap. As I stared out the window a scene flashed before my eyes, and it happened so fast that I couldn't quite believe it. I saw a policeman standing on the side of the railroad tracks and he looked very grim, beside him was the body of man who was upside down, body twisted in a strange position and dried blood on the side of his mouth, stuck in some sort of electrical pole. I felt a little bit sick. When my husband came out of the washroom I told him what I had seen. His dad hadn't seen it because he had been sleeping! My husband had a hard time believing my story.

June 25, 1993: I just found out from our friend Benedict Jozefko, who had read the newspaper that the man I had seen had indeed died from jumping off the train. He had come from the Ukraine looking for work to feed his four children. He didn't have a train ticket so when the conductor came by to collect tickets the man had panicked and jumped to his death.

June 25,1993;The Basilicas are absolutely beautiful here. I'm inspired to do a black and gold sculpture when we get back to B.C.

Right now we are on a train to Auschwitz.

June 26, 1993: It sure was creepy being in the concentration camp. Somehow I wanted to honor the people who had suffered such unspeakable horror and tragedy. I felt stronger emotions than I ever did in a church. Pictures of the victims were everywhere on the walls. I had only seen images of Auschwitz and the prisoners in the movies; let me tell you, no actor, no matter how talented, has been able to capture the sheer terror I saw in the eyes of those victims. We saw a short film which was in English. We walked through the camp; there were large rooms with huge piles consisting of thousands of shoes, other piles of hair brushes and toothbrushes, suitcases and eyeglasses. We walked through the gas chambers and the crematorium. It was a very frightening experience. I saw the so-called beds, made of wooden planks and a bit of straw.

I took one reed of grass and a white little flower from Auschwitz and taped it into my journal.

July 5, 1993: The scenes that I really love are the huge stork nests up in the telephone poles. It just looks amazing, the nests are at least 3 feet in diameter and they are everywhere. Sometimes the nests are made on top of old wooden buildings. While I am staring at the stork nests an old carriage with two big old horses and a mound of hay comes walking by .This looks like a scene from a Van Gogh painting.

July8, 1993: We are on a plane back home to Vancouver, B.C. We had a stop over in London. At the airport in the boarding room, Andrew went to the back to sneak a cigarette. While in dental school he started sneaking cigarettes because it just wasn't "cool" to smoke and study medicine! So here he was in London, England sneaking cigarettes and I reminded him of where we were and that nobody would care if he smoked. All of a sudden a really loud voice yelled "Hey, Andrew," "Hey, Andrew," we couldn't believe it, it was someone that Andrew had just graduated from dental school with. We are all on the same plane together going back to Canada.

I have a web site in which I am able to invite other artists. The address is

It's quite simple to join, click on "register", "login", "create/order album" (this is where you give your album a title only,) then "upload images", I usually only load two or three at a time. Once you've loaded you can go to home page click on "user gallery" and you'll see your images! Of course there are no fees and your image upload is unlimited! For art collectors this is a great place to buy original art for a great price.

Thank you so much and I really hope to see your work there.


Annette Labedzki

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