We next visited the Tempel Synagogue, a reform Jewish synagogue built in the 1860’s which has Moorish designs on the ceiling and is quite ornate, reminiscent of the Spanish Synagogue in Prague. Hasidic Jews did not like this synagogue which incorporated elements of Christian churches such as the pews aligned and facing front and the fact that the day of prayer was changed to Saturday. The Hasidic Jews said of the building, that it was not a synagogue but a temple, for Gentiles. The word ‘temple’ therefore, used to describe a synagogue, was originally a pejorative word referring to non-traditional Jewish synagogues. Inside the synagogue was a klezmer concert and we were able to enjoy the music for a short while.
Here Shalmi explains that Plaszow Camp, located only 5 miles from here, was built by the people from the Krakow Ghetto who believed they would survive the war because they were building a labor camp. They even built a barrack for children there, so they believed that their families would remain intact. However, on March 13, 1943, all Jews from the ghetto were supposed to report to the square at 7:00 a.m. Once there, all children under age 14 were told to line up separately. Their parents were told that they would come to Plaszow the next day. Pankiewicz chronicles in his diary that some saw this as a bad sign and rushed to the pharmacy to purchase one of two drugs. One of the drugs was Valerium--a drug that put their babies to sleep, so that parents could smuggle their babies into the Plaszow camp inside of suitcases. Shalmi told us that 12 children are known to have been smuggled into Plaszow in this manner. The second drug requested by many Jews was Cyanide, for suicide. At 1:00 p.m., the Nazis ordered those not in the children's line to start marching from the ghetto to Plaszow. They left behind what they were unable to carry. The following day, their children were taken away and shot. Two days later, some parents found out when they were forced to sort the children's clothing, and found the clothing of their own children.