Our day began with a short drive to Trsice. What a surprise greeted us as we walked to the Trsice City Hall from our bus when we saw a new historical marker for a five stop walking tour of the history here connected to the diary of Otto Wolf. This trail takes people to the two memorials that we dedicated here in 2012 and 2013, as well as the Trsice history museum, the memorial at Zakrov to Otto and the 19 men killed here in April of 1945, and the cemetery where some of the rescuers are buried.
We were greeted in a traditional welcoming ceremony at the city hall which consisted of tearing off a piece of bread and dipping it into a bowl of salt before eating.
We were ushered into the meeting room and introductions were made. The mayor of Trsice, Mrs. Leona Stejskalova, surprised us with her story of visiting Yad Vashem in Israel with 7 other mayors from the Olomouc area. Our friend, Dr. Karel Brezina told his memories as a child during the war, witnessing the Wolf family entering and exiting the hideouts along with the story of the Wolf family in Trsice. Mrs. Zdenka Calabkova, the young daughter of Marie and Oldrich Ohera who helped hide the Wolf family in their home and who we call Mrs. Ohera, was not able to join us here because she is recovering from hip surgery.
We boarded the bus and walked through the forest to visit our memorial, dedicated in 2012 to Otto and his family, who hid here in the forest for three long years. A local sponsor of the new Otto Wolf Trail, the Jezdecky Areal Trsice, a new horse stable with a bed and breakfast with a restaurant located in between Zakrov and Trsice, hosted a delicious lunch for our students, the mayor, her assistant and the local Boy Scouts and their leader. After our tour of the lovely horse stables, we went to the memorial we dedicated last year to the rescuers who helped the Wolfs while in hiding.
Our final stop in the area was at the memorial at Zakrov, where we were fortunate to find Mrs. Ohera, whose father and uncle were killed along with Otto Wolf. To our surprise, Mrs. Ohera was out walking for physical therapy and gave us big hugs before posing for pictures.
After a two hour bus ride, we arrived in Oswiecim, at The International Youth Meeting Centre in Oswiecim/Auschwitz, where we ate dinner and learned more about this place. Established in 1986 in a cooperative effort between Germany and Poland to use the history of the Holocaust, educators host seminars to increase understanding about issues of prejudice. We are the only guests staying in a house with a living room, kitchen and multiple rooms. As we type the blogs, they are in the loft outside their rooms upstairs laughing, talking and relaxing. Soon we will sleep and prepare for our intense day tomorrow at Auschwitz and Birkenau.