Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–Poland Deux

I want to try to write every day until I actually reach Krakow. No matter how trivial or bland, I want to keep myself engaged. Once I arrive in Poland from Italy, I’m sure I’ll be writing like a fiend.

The motor of motivation is starting to rev. Yesterday I spent hours researching family information online. My cousin back in Oregon has an Ancestry.com account and did some sleuthing for me.  Much of the information she found I already had. But she was able to find a few more nuggets that will help in my search.

And I’ve started researching Lviv and Krakow. Krakow, especially since I’m leaving for Poland on March 10. I’m reading about the history of these cities, their emergence as major centers of culture, commerce, religion and governance. I wish I could research family further back than the information I have. Perhaps I will?

Yet, I know researching beyond my grandparents or great-grandparents will be difficult. These cities have been ravaged by war over the centuries as Russia and Germany beat on them relentlessly and then partitioned the land. Soviet communism after WWII didn’t help . Krakow was spared much of the bombardment but Warsaw lay in ruins. My maternal grandmother was born in Rosvausch, Poland, a bit outside Krakow. Was it spared during WWII? How about WWI? If not, how badly was it bombed?

How much information will be available? War has many tragic consequences. Beyond the obvious devastation of unimaginable death, there is also the permanent loss of records, books and history. I believe every person’s history, every person’s story is important and should be told. If not in official archives then, at the very least to family. Preferably in written form. Life is too important to be ignored. Family history is crucial. You don’t have to be aristocracy or an influential family. Your story still means something.

How much of my family info is available? How far back does it go? I’m reading Alex Hailey’s Roots. I cannot put this book down. It’s riveting and I’m getting ideas of how to write this book. I’m envious of the fact that he was able to glean so much information of his history going all the way back to Africa. How thrilling! How enthralling! How completing.

I did some cursory searching online for newspapers and reporters in Krakow. Will it be difficult to find anyone who speaks and writes English? Will anyone want to write about this story? If I find that documentation of my family is impossible to locate, my search will focus on distant family members. How will I do that without help? Check the phone book? I can’t see that route helping too much.

The next 4-5 weeks before I leave are going to be a long slog. Trying to find information online, researching Krakow, looking for media opportunities. It’s the lull before the storm. Like the buildup before the joy of Christmas. Will there be an “after-Christmas” downer when I return from Krakow? That’s one of many questions I won’t be able to answer until I get there.

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