History repeats itself

History repeats itself

I was waiting long to describe the route that I was running during our Christmas stay in Poland, preparing for Cracow New Year’s Eve Run. It leads through the places that are not typical sports-recreational area or even area encouraging at first glance to explore. At second glance, however, begin to show their charm.

Alien stuff you praise,
Your own you do not recognize;
You do not know
What you have.
/Stanisław Jachowicz/

During those few days when I was training to 10th Cracow New Year’s Eve Run, I met on this route a dozen people running, a few cyclists and… one pheasant.

Colleague sportsman

Colleague sportsman

For the beginning of the route I chose Park and Palace of Erazm Jerzmanowski in Prokocim, southern district of Cracow.

Park of Jerzmanowski

Park of Jerzmanowski

Palace of Jerzmanowski

Palace of Jerzmanowski

The history of this area dates back to the XIII century, when probably the Bishop of Cracow founded the village Prokocim. For centuries, the property passed from hand to hand, until in 1895 it bought the Erazm Jerzmanowski. This outstanding inventor and entrepreneur earned a great deal of wealth in the United States, where he worked on the production and distribution of gas. He had several patents for devices used to produce and process gas, including a patent on a method that allows the use of gas for street lighting. Jerzmanowski overseas has been called “the man who lit up America”.

Erazm Jerzmanowski

Erazm Jerzmanowski

Erazm Jerzmanowski was one of the richest people of the XIX century, his fortune was compared with a fortune of John D. Rockefeller. His assets were for him a means to support the restoration of an independent Poland. In the United States he supported in particular educational, scientific and cultural activities of Polish community. In Switzerland provided financial assistance to the Polish Museum in Rapperswill, and passed for a museum of various objects and works of art. After returning home, he settled in Prokocim and took no active part in the social life of Krakow, but did not stop his charitable activities. He actively supported his friend Adam Chmielowski – Saint Brother Albert in helping the poorest.

Always go forward, even after bitter disappointment and raging waves of the sea, the divine care over us, before anything did not go back and be ready for anything, what God asks of us.
/St. Brother Albert/

Leon Wyczółkowski „"Brother Albert hugging a baby", oil on canvas, 1934. Albertine Brothers General House, Kraków

Leon Wyczółkowski „”Brother Albert hugging a baby”, oil on canvas, 1934. Albertine Brothers General House, Kraków

In his will he established the “Foundation of the Prizes of. Erazm and Anna spouses Jerzmanowski”, which was to manage by the Cracow Academy of Sciences. The Foundation was to pay an annual cash prize for outstanding achievement in the literary, scientific or humanitarian done for the benefit of native country. Therefore Jerzmanowski is often called the Polish Nobel. The winners of the awards were, among others, Prince Adam Stefan Cardinal Sapieha, Henryk Sienkiewicz and Jan Paderewski. The last two I mentioned already in my blog, because they were also associated with Switzerland. After the death of Erazm Jerzmanowski his wife Anna sold the estate to the Augustinians, who, after many twists of the history are again in the possession of the land and celebrate mass in the chapel in the park.

Chapel in Prokocim

Chapel in Prokocim

After leaving the palace grounds on the west side, I run right down Górników street. I pass historic water tower with a height of about 20 meters, which in its heyday delivered water to the palace and park fountains through water pipe.

Water tower

Water tower

Then via the street Na Wrzosach I bow my head before the monument of pilots from Prokocim fighting during World War II and run further down to the north.

In the tribute to the pilots from Prokocim

In the tribute to the pilots from Prokocim

I cross Snycerska street, then Biezanowska street and further through Morawiańskiego street under a railway bridge built in 1873 and after a while under the second bridge.

Closely Watched Trains

Closely Watched Trains

I turn right, following the road and under two railway viaducts I run out on the vast railway area with ban on traffic, which is good news for athletes training here. The road splits up. In the left leads to the footbridge over the railway tracks and to the Lake Bagry, which is a place of rest for local residents and the seat of water sports facilities.

I’m running right to the east. An asphalt road leads through meadows and railway tracks. Sometimes you have to run across the tracks, and though such places are few, it is better to look to the left and right! After about 3 kilometers from the start of the route I run alongside two strange structures on the left side of the road.

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

First, octagonal reinforced concrete construction is the water tower dating from World War II. Next there are the remains of a well from which water was pumped to the tower. Tower ensured a stable pressure in the water supply in case of a sudden increase in demand for water and for maintenance processes. Reservoir water was placed on top of the tower above the recipients as operated on the principle of communicating vessels. At the train station tower was used to power steam locomotives in the water.

Water tower at the station Kraków Prokocim

Water tower at the station Kraków Prokocim

The building standing a few dozen meters away fed locomotives in the coal. This tower was founded after World War II under the assistance of UNRRA for Poland (UNRRA – United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration).

Coaling tower for steam locomotives

Coaling tower for steam locomotives

Having coal and water, the locomotive standing at a station with forty wagons attached to it could finally hit the road:

From where does it, how does it, why does it rush?
And what is it, who is it, gives it a push?
That makes it go faster, all thrashing and hissing?
It’s steam’s scalding power that keeps the train moving.
It’s steam, piped from boiler to a piston that glides
Back and forth pushing rods that turn wheels on both sides,
They’re striving and driving, the train keeps on bumping,
‘Cause steam keeps the pistons a-pumping and pumping,
/Julian Tuwin, The Locomotive, Translation Michael Dembinski/

I keep on bumping and run up the footbridge over the railway tracks and turning right I run over the Krakow Bieżanów Passenger station. On the other side of the bridge is an old railway station building on the historic route through the Carpathians, which is in a state of total decay.
Railway station Kraków Bieżanów

Railway station Kraków Bieżanów

I turn left, into Stacyjna street and reach a large intersection where a monument Under The Eagle stands. This memorial was donated by former legionnaires and residents Bieżanów in honor of the soldiers killed in the years 1914-1920. After the Second World War appeared on it the names of people murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945. Under the monument a small matzeva is set with a Star of David, dedicated to the Jews murdered by Nazis in the years 1942-1945.
Monument "Under The Egle" in Bieżanów

Monument “Under The Egle” in Bieżanów

I run through the intersection and via Jerzy Popieluszko street climb up to the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biezanów. Behind the church I continue up and on the top of the hill turn right into Ferdynand Weigl street. Behind the yeast factory I turn right into… Yeast street (Drożdżowa). Then immediately left into Bogucicka street and after 350 meters turn right into Leon Ślusarczyk street. After 600 meters I reach the railroad tracks and turn left into Frederic Zoll street, which after 350 meters I turn right into Stanisław Proń street. I climb up, and when the road ends, continuing through meadows and fields to the top of the hill, which rises 265 meters above the sea level.
Monument on Kaim Hill

Monument on Kaim Hill

On the top of the hill stands a monument commemorating the repulse during World War I by the Austro-Hungarian army, the Russian army offensive, wanting to get to Krakow. It was unveiled on the first anniversary of the events – December 6, 1915. It has the form of an obelisk, on the eastern wall is the Hungarian royal crown in a laurel wreath, on the southern wall is the crest of the Habsburgs and underneath the plaque with an inscription in German:
HIER WURDEN AM 6 DEZEMBER 1914 DIE SOLDATEN DER RUSS ARMEE ENDGÜLTIG ZURÜCK GESCHOSSEN

HIER WURDEN AM 6 DEZEMBER 1914 DIE SOLDATEN DER RUSS ARMEE ENDGÜLTIG ZURÜCK GESCHOSSEN

On the western wall is the Austrian imperial crown in a laurel wreath and on the north wall plaque with the inscription in Polish:
Here were repulsed on December 6, 1914 the furthest forward troops of the Russian army

Here were repulsed on December 6, 1914 the furthest forward troops of the Russian army

After four years from the date shown on the monument were repulsed from the Polish lands armies of of all three invaders, Russia, Austria and Germany. On 11 November 1918 Poland regained its independence after 123 years of slavery. Unfortunately, only for 20 wonderful years…

The twenties, the thirties
Will come back with song, dress rustling
Blue shadow over a deck of cards
And laugh which confirm a joke
The twenties, the thirties,
Sometime will be a pretext for emotions
The smell of lilacs withered long time ago
Poetry hidden among ordinary words
When you look at it from the perspective
Which can given only the time
This slice of life was our own, was a real
Therefore, they will remember us…
/The twenties, the thirties, Ludmila Warzecha/

Already in 1939 Poland of was again invaded by Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union and betrayed by allies France and Great Britain. Finally after 6 years of war and the millions of victims, Poland was theoretically among the winners. In practice, however, by another betrayal of the United Kingdom and the United States, were sold to the Soviet Union and spent the next 50 years on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

Nonsense and foolishness flourishes,
rudeness, meanness, deceit,
in this kingdom of vouchers
shoe determines consciousness.
Doubts gnawed by rust
head formerly opened.
Chewed conscience
overcrowded prison.
Pour another one?
But, my dear colleague,
unnecessary kickshaw -
and as soon as I drink!
Drown our faithful hearts in vodka,
before finally sudden blood will flood us:
generation of lost illusions,
generation of wasted opportunities.
/Jan Pietrzak, Generation/

It seems that history begins to repeat:

  • A referendum on the accession of the Crimea to Russia with the support of the residents at the level of 95.5%. And how it was in 1938 with Austria? Anschluss, means the incarnation of Austria into the Third Reich was also “sealed” in a referendum in which 99% of Austrians “happily” have cast into the arms of Hitler.
  • The seizure of the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany was dictated by the “concern” of the German population residing in these areas. Do not resemble it coincidentally “the concern” about the Russian population in the Crimea?
  • Sudetenland were also important from an economic point of view, as the Donbas, the seizure is likely to be the next step of Putin.

And then what? Russia has already expressed another “concern” about the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia. This country is a member of NATO, but it is nothing, a comrade Putin does not pay attention to the little things. After Ukraine and Estonia will be the turn for Lithuania, Latvia and … Poland.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
/Edmund Burke/

The new world order /foto: economist.com/

The new world order /foto: economist.com/

And powerless European Union will look and frighten Russia with sanctions, not understanding that it repeats the mistake of France and the United Kingdom in September 1939. It was enough to help Poland fighting alone and a year later avoid the Wehrmacht parade on the Champs Elysees.

Srebrna Góra

Shepherdess at Silver Mountain

Every year our family attends midnight mass. This year our choice was the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bielany near Cracow. Unfortunately after digesting 12 dishes during supper, blood had pumped into my stomach and intestines, and this of course, had a negative impact on all the other parts of my body. My legs did not want to move and my brain was drifting into the arms of sleep.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. «Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour? he asked Peter. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak».

/Mt 26, 40-41/

Therefore, we set out; not on foot for perhaps, a run, but by car. Despite the enthusiasm, you need to use common sense. Besides, others had already spoken out strongly against a run. So we parked on Hikers Alley, located at the foothills of The Wolski Forest and from there, we made our way on foot to the Silver Mountain. Darkness…

there is no road neither the barrow ahead;
I look up to the sky, searching for stars, the guides of my boat;

/Adam Mickiewicz, The Akkerman Steppes/

I recognized the constellations of Orion, Great Bear and Cassiopeia.

After a short march through The Branches Alley, we stood in front of the first gate. On a narrow street between the walls of the monastery came to the wicket. There were already a lot of people waiting. Like us and the hermits of the Silver Mountain, they also wanted to welcome the Child.

Shepherdess at Silver Mountain

Shepherdess at Silver Mountain

Hermitage (Latin eremitorium – monastery of monks living in seclusion) on Bielny was founded in 1604 by the grand marshal of the crown Mikołaj Wolski.

Legend has said that he was a real sinner, dabbled in black magic and alchemy, but at the end of his life he stroked back and within the reparation for the sins brought to Krakow Camaldolese monk from Italy. The monks chosen a place for the seat, which unfortunately did not belong to Wolski, but to Sebastian Lubomirski, Castellan of Wojnice who did not want to abandon the site. Wolski proved to be an excellent psychologist and applied the best method for the second Pole in the style of the following joke:

The devil grabbed a German, a Frenchman, an Englishman and a Pole.

He told a German jump into the abyss but German answered he will not jump, so the devil said, “But these are the orders”. Then German shouted, “Jawohl Herr Devil!” and jumped into the precipice.

The devil convinced the Frenchman to jump, but he did not want to, so the devil said, “But these are the orders.”  “I don’t give a damn,” answered Frenchman. “But this is fashionable nowadays,” argued the devil.  “Well, if this is fashionable, I will jump”.

The Englishman was the next and obviously did not want to jump. He was not interested in fulfilling orders or in fashion, so the devil said, “Jump for the queen,” and then Englishman jumped into the abyss singing,” God save the Queen”.

At the end the devil asked the Pole to jump, and the Pole did not want to.  “But these are the orders,” said the devil.  “I don’t give a damn,” said the Pole.   But it is fashionable now,” said the devil. “Fashion does not interest me,” countered the Pole. “Jump for the queen.” “But in Poland there is no queen.” Then the devil said sadly, “So you will not jump?” The indignant Pole answered, “What, I will not jump ?!”

So Wolski organized a sumptuous feast, where in addition to Lubomirski he invited important persons of Cracow. At the end of the feast, when the guests were already in good mood, Wolski talked about his troubles with finding a place for the Camaldolese. Then castellan Lubomirski, said, “What, I will not jump?!” and signed a deed of gift. In gratitude Wolski gave him silver vessels used during the feast, which cost a lot because it offset the value of donated land. To commemorate this event, the hill became the Silver Mountain.

Thanks to that event we were able to wait at the monastery wicket in this Silent Night. Shortly before midnight, the brother porter opened the door and we walked through the grassy courtyard to the baroque church. Just beyond the entrance we trampled sinful remains of Marshal Wolski buried just under the floor (this was his request). We sat down in the icy benches in an unheated church and Midnight Mass has begun. No organs, just singing of monks and the believers who came. An unforgettable experience. Sermon was simple, sincere, without gestures, suspending voice and finger-pointing. You can see that monks are the people of prayer and contemplation. They were not prepared to receive daily contact with the believers in the church. Most important, however, was what was evident – there was faith, there was hope and there was love. And there were beautiful Polish carols.

What hast thou, the heaven better?
God abandoned its happiness,
Here to share the trial and sorrow,
Of His poor, beloved people.
Suffered much and suffered dearly,
For we all who were guilty sinners,
And the Word became flesh
And dwelt among us.

/Franciszek Karpinski, Song of the Nativity of the Lord/

When we left the church after the mass, the stars twinkled above us and below the lights of over the millennial city. Residents were calmly sleeping, eating or … returning from Shepherdess.

Cracovians, do you know thanks to whom your city is safe and intact for so many centuries? Camaldolese monks are your lightning rod.

/John Paul II during his visit to the Camaldolese in 2002/