11 April 2013
Spring in Poland has finally come after a miserably long winter of six months. Buildings have had their colors returned to them. I can see that the building that hosts Alchemia is a faded daffodil yellow and the neighboring one is a lovely burgundy brick red. Winter was a grey slumbering fugue. Krakow has returned to life.
The flea market at New Place today was rather daunting. One stall sold anti-Semitic cartoons, art, and caricatures from the early 20th century while the neighboring one sold a mish-mash of Jewish memorabilia and dusty swastikas and various Third Reich artifacts. I wondered to myself whether Jewish tourists would be willing to buy questionably antique Judaica from the same person who is selling an authentic photograph of somebody hanging from the gallows in Auchwitz, one of the more shocking objects I saw for sale here.
I was not surprised at seeing swastika and “Jude” armbands available for just anyone to buy as I would have been two years ago. Living in Eastern Europe is not only an educational but a jading experience.
Out of curiosity, I asked how much these objects were. These two caricatures together cost 150PLN or 50 dollars.
The caricatures depicted a happy Rabbi carting home a keg of beer in the first panel, followed by an unhappy Rabbi in frum garb, looking down wistfully on the street at a broken beer bottle.
I asked the vendor what this all meant and he said, referring to the Jew in the caricature, that he “had many problems.” I wasn’t quite sure if he was referring to this particular Jew, or rather, the entire group.
I asked him where he acquired all of these objects and like many other vendors, he replied vaguely that he got them from “people”, in particular, “older people.” I felt that while I may have appeared tactless, and often am chided by my friends for asking too many “probing questions,” I wasn’t accusing this man of grave-robbing. I merely wanted to know.