Visits to Krakowa and Oświęcim

On Tuesday, March 15, we visited the Schindler Factory Museum in Krakow, Poland, and met with the executive director - historian Monika Bednarek. We discussed the making of the museum, made famous by the film "Schindler's List", and which is just 5 years old because, we were surprised to learn, the factory continued to operate until the early 2000s. Ms. Bednarek was extremely gracious with her time and information. The Schindler Enamel Factory is one of three sites she directs called The Memory Trail. The other two sites are The Eagle Pharmacy that served the Jewish populace walled off into a ghetto where food was rationed to starvation levels, and Pomorska Street, the German command building and holding cells that housed the resident Gestapo headquarters. www.mhk.pl/memory-trail

The Schindler museum's exhibits are extensive, robust in archival and tactile material, theatrical, interactive and utterly consuming. You travel from the 4th floor in a twisting labyrinth of places, events, people from just before Germany's invasion on September 1, 1939 through the end of World War II, the liberation of the concentration camps, and into the period of Soviet control.

 Click here to watch a 1-minute video taken
in the hall depicting the invasion attack.

There are places in the exhibit where you can feel so overwhelmed that you begin to look for ways to escape - and there will suddenly be a real window allowing you to see sky and the tops of buildings. You turn away to realize there's only one way out, to push through the experience until it is over.

At this moment you recognize that resistance, a determination to survive, to take what control you could, would be both psychologically and in fact would be critical to your survival in such conditions, and would ultimately affect the outcome. This is something we raise consistently in discussing the history and legacy of living in slavery in the United States.

Discoveries! Sites that are good to know about:



SUCCESS! Byrd Middle School will be Renamed!


Henrico County School Board unanimously voted to change the name of Harry Flood Byrd Middle School, and the public has 30 days to recommend an alternative name. There is a remarkable history involving the Vandervall family that originally owned the land the school was built upon and was heavily involved in education and the establishment of schools in the area. Advocates, including descendants of this family and former students, are now asking the public to (in our word) reclaim this school's more productive history and name it the Vandervall Middle School. 

Contact the Henrico County School Board before April 9th to:
  1. Recommend renaming Harry F Byrd Middle School to either Vandervall Middle School or Quioccasion Middle School
  2. AND, insist that the new school not be named after another Byrd family member! Apparently, as if they didn't actually understand why the name-change issue arose to begin with, some are suggesting another Byrd family name (or just all the Byrds) be substituted in order to save money on signage replacements. 
Contact information for Henrico County School Board for name change suggestions:

Our original post about the campaign:
When we read about grassroots campaign to change the name of Harry F. Byrd Jr. Middle School in Henrico County, Virginia, we cheered. "Why on earth should a school be named after someone who actively denied schoolchildren education?" This question is at the heart of high school senior Jordan Chapman's campaign. But the fact that this task can be taken on at all is at the heart of the changes we are witnessing and implementing across Richmond, Virginia and the South.