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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff


Treblinka’s death camp is sobering, located about 10 km from my relatives in Ostrów Mazieweicka. In 1995, I went to pay my respects several times while in Ostrów. It was like a secret garden with solemn vibes from the many Jewish backpackers from all over the world coming into this sacred place that the Nazis chose so any snooping spies wouldn’t find it. A new museum has been erected since my last visit to explain the madness this place encountered for far too many people.

Almost 1 million people died in Treblinka in about 18 months. Flesh flakes (human burnt skin) traveled all over the area, and the stench was vomit worthy.

It is sad but sacred, with no words and silence deafening as we walked around the hallowed grounds. Three butterflies greeted us as we exited the area. I kept thinking it means something. I'm still thinking about it.

The second part of the day was a total surprise, and I love a good surprise.

My cousin and hostess, Renata, is also an investigator with genealogy and family ancestry. She has been glued to some websites to find out as much as possible about her family, my family (on my Dad’s side), and how they are intertwined. We had to look a few generations back to great-great grandparents and violá; the link is there - we are related!

Renata also went down the road of the Nowacki family (my father’s surname before changing it to Nolan in 1960 to become a pro-bowler). She connected with a well-known priest in the area, also with the last name of Nowacki.

Father Nowacki, also well known to Italian Vatican priests and the last several popes, met us for lunch in his well-appointed rectory. Renata, Jurik, Iwona, and I were warmly welcomed to discuss (our) my heritage with him and other burning questions about WW11 and more. It was a great surprise and a very enlightening conversation, as Father Nowacki is knowledgeable and has a pulse on historical world affairs, including religion and how it affects everyday life. Poland plays a large role in its various and complicated history.

We are headed to Krakow tomorrow. I cannot believe this has been an epic trip by many measures!

Peace is the ONLY option!



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