Monthly Archives: July 2012

east

On Saturday night, Lublin is rocking – more even than Krakow. The old town – a few cobbled streets and a medieval square – is jammed with people partying out loud in sweltering heat. A punk band blasts cacophony from … Continue reading

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This Way for The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Tadeusz Borowski, who wrote these stories, lived through Auschwitz somehow, and left sharply told tales of hell behind. There is nothing to say about them by way of commentary; they just need to be read. But his guilt (one has … Continue reading

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earth do not cover their blood

From the moment the bus stops, Auschwitz and Birkenau, 67 and a half years to the day after their liberation, are heaving with guided tour groups in a Babel of languages. The story goes on and on: three-and-a-half almost relentless … Continue reading

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Kraków

Kraków is a fine, bustling city with bags of self-confidence and plenty to be proud about. Here are the tombs of the Polish kings – something like the tombs of the Kings of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings. … Continue reading

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Love and Garbage

A novel by the Czech writer Ivan Klima, written in the early 1980s: mostly garbage, actually. He’s very good on garbage: he describes well the environmental pollution of Prague and its environs by the communist regime, and how they also … Continue reading

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I Served The King Of England

This novel by the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, written in 1971, consists of a series of impossible anecdotes strung around the life of the narrator, a waiter in Bohemia during the years around the Second World War. At first it’s … Continue reading

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24 hours in Silesia

The small train from the Czech Republic came rattling through cool Sudeten mountain forests of silver birch into Poland, and then descended to the plains. When I was at school back in the 1970s I had a mental picture of … Continue reading

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48 hours in Moravia

On into Moravia, the other half of the Czech lands. Long vistas of rolling land, field and heath and forests that are just as cool and dense and lush, if a little more coniferous than in Bohemia. At a small … Continue reading

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lagerland

Plzeň is ground zero of the global lager explosion – it was invented here in the 1830s (ever wondered what the Ur in Pilsner Urquell stood for?) So much to answer for… There’s a museum dedicated to General George S. … Continue reading

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Prague: the Jewish quarter

It only takes so long looking at the pretty face of central Europe before you are bound to end up staring at the screaming, searing wound gouged across it: the treatment of the Jews. It was bad enough before the … Continue reading

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