I - The same feeling, you were telling me, that perhaps coal gives you.
PL - Right, this too. Perhaps because I am a chemist, and a chemist's trained to identify substances by their smell; And then as now the entrance into Poland, into Polish cities at least, is marked by two specific smells, which don't exist in Italy: the smell of toasted barley and the sharp smell of burning coal. This is a mining country and even individual houses are heated by coal, which gives out into the air a sharp smell, which is not bad, but for me, at least, this is the small of the lager, of the Poland of the lager.
photo: Ari Frankel
I - And the people?
PL - No, the people are not the same; Back then we hadn't seen people; We had only seen the jailers of the lager and their collaborators, who for a great part were Polish, Jews and Christians. But the Polish people of the streets, who lived in their houses, we didn't see them. We saw them from afar; Outside the wire fence there was a country road, which went along the lager. But very few people would come by. Later on we learned that all of the local peasants had been removed, but some buses went by, which took Polish workers to their Jobs, and I remember that on some of them - like on durs - there was some advertisement for soup; You know, as if one could have a choice between a good soup and one not so good.