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The photos in this book were taken in June of 2008. Its four chapters cover the cities of Budapest, Krakow and Prague, and the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. I start the city chapters with a brief photographic introduction of the city itself, and then concentrate on the Jewish heritage. In selecting these photos, I tried to pick those that reflect best the character of each city and its distinct Jewish history. The death camps are part of the landscape of Eastern Europe, and explain the absence of Jewish populations in Prague and Krakow. These cities had a vibrant and numerous Jewish community before World War II, a community that is now conspicuously absent in both of them. Budapest is a different story, as many Jews survived the War, even as most of the Jews killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau were Hungarian. So, both the vestiges of a vibrant culture in these cities and the empty barracks of the camps, bear witness to a chapter in our recent history that shall never be forgotten.
I was born in Hungary of Jewish lineage, grew up in Argentina, and live currently in Tampa, Florida. I am what is called a "secular Jew," non-practicing and with very little religious education and just a few cultural traditions, In spite of this, I found myself profoundly attracted to the remnants of an ancient and now almost extinct Jewish tradition in Eastern Europe. Of course I have been deeply affected by the Holocaust, even though I was born three years after the end of World War II. My mother, still alive, is a survivor, having lost part of her family to the Holocaust. Like most survivors, up until recently she has been reluctant to talk about her experiences. A few years ago, she was interviewed in Buenos Aires, where she lives, by representatives of Steven Spielberg's Shoa Project, and I have a copy of the tape. On it, she finally opened up the spigot of her memories and emotions, in a way that she has never done before… (continues in the book).