Post comments for reading Ch. 20-23 here.
The castle is revealed within the reading, however it is not the castle Becca expected. Chelmno itself is the castle, the place were millions of people were killed, a place of horrible memories and death. I believe this was a big shock to Becca, who thought she was going to find a castle like in the childhood story she was told by Gemma. This was not the type of castle she thought Gemma was in, followed by so many others. The next question Becca should ask herself, is how Gemma managed to survive unlike so many others.
Becca did not know how to react when she figured out the disturbing news that Gemma did not live in a palace that was surrounded by a great environment. Gemma was stationed in a camp that is extremely horrid to think about, let alone live in the conditions.
I think she was shocked about the entire situation I mean wouldn’t you be too? The thing that gets me is that they killed and tortured all these innocent people in a castle. Almost to make it depict a fairy tale and that everything was just perfect inside when in all reality it was horrible conditions, death everywhere, it was an extermination camp.
I think that Becca was defiantly surprised with the castle she was expecting it to be a giant castle when it ended up being some little castle surrounded by an old concentration camp.
At first I was hoping for good news for Becca and her search for Gemma and the castle. After finding out the horrible news that the castle was really a death camp, it’s very upsetting to hear what they went through. The story is really getting interesting though!
Becca was shocked when she found out what the castle was. The story seems to make a little more sense now, with how it relates to Sleeping Beauty and the Holocaust. Gemma may have been talking about how everyone was being killed off in the concentration camps, but instead of telling Becca and the kids that she told them that they fell asleep and never woke up besides her. The prince may be one of the soldiers and someone who had helped her escape from Chelmno, while the briars were the barbed wires, that no one could get through or get out of.
Yeah thats a really good way to put it to explain how it may be and it is pretty accurate with the facts that we have gathered this far.
I hadn’t thought about it that way! It had never occurred to me that maybe the prince was someone that helped her out or that the story was really about her time at the camps. I had always just thought she was telling her story but this definitely puts it all to a new perspective!
It was definitely a turning point in the book. I just like Becca was thinking of an actual castle because of the whole sleeping beauty thing. This is big for Becca even though she knew she was at the camp but to know that Chelmno is the castle and that for sure Gemma was there, now that is big news. Like you said Brooke now the question that Becca needs to figure out is how did Gemma manage to survive unlike so many others. This is a really important question because we were told earlier that no woman has ever came out of Kulmhof alive. So this question definitely needs to be answered soon. I am really wondering how she got out!
I did not even think about how the whole town is the castle. That is a great point, Gemma definitely glamoured up the story for the girls when she told it. After a while, I think Gemma began believing her own story.
I think that Gemma wanted to tell the story to the girls so she in a way forgot about what she went through. I don’t think she wanted the girls to find out what happened to her so she made the story a fairytale that she would eventually tell every single day to the girls. That’s until the two sisters got tired of the story. Gemma did a good job at making the story positive.
I agree with you. I think that Gemma started to believe her story that she was making up to tell the girls. I think she made the story up because she didn’t want the girls to feel bad for her if she would have told them what really happen.
Becca was stunned when she realized that her grandmother was in a extermination camp. When Becca finally entered the church it all hit her at once. Many innocent people were killed right where she was standing. Then the worst part is that she realized that Gemma used to live here and went through many terrifying events. I couldn’t imagine how Becca felt, It would tear me apart seeing my grandmother going through so much pain.
I think Becca was shocked to see that they were at the castle. Becca couldn’t even speak when she found out. All the polish people was rude and Becca could not talk to them. Becca had to talk to the priest to get informative.
Yeah but every one there still has bad memories and they probably do not like when strangers come to town because the last time they did it was the Nazis to take over the town.
The people of the town I think weren’t being rude. I believe that if I were living in that town while the Nazi’s were taking it over I probably wouldn’t want to talk about it either. They all knew what was going on at the camp but even if they wanted to they couldn’t say anything. I don’t blame them for not wanting to talk to Becca and Magda about the past.
I agree with you Zeb. When people go through such a horrible event it is hard to talk about it. Look at all those World War two guys who came back from the war and just don’t talk about what happened and what they saw. And those that do talk about it takes a toll on them to tell their story.
I completely agree Boat, It’s hard to believe that people can be that rude to visitors. Becca is only trying to learn the past and the truth about her grandmother. I don’t understand how people can be so rude to her, and act like something that terrible never happened.
Many of the people could not talk about what they went through because it’s hard too. I know that if I was in that situation I would not be able to talk to my family about it let alone a stranger. Many of them have went to Father Stashu to cry and talk to him about everything that has happened to them. Father Stashu being their for all of them is probably what is helping most of them overcome this tragic event. It’s not going to be hard for the priest to talk to Becca about everything because he did not experience it first hand, but he knows a lot that went on since he has been with the people for over 20 years.
Yeah it would be hard to talk about it but they were not the ones to go through the camp themselves. That what is weird about the whole thing. Unless they personally went through the camp and some hoe survived like Gemma I think there is no reason to be so rude to someone looking for answers about their past. Who knows though, they could feel guilty for letting such a terrible thing happen.
It would be really hard to talk about the past if I were the towns people and people were to ask me about it. If I were the girls I would have went to the priest like they did.
I do not believe that the people in the town were being rude necessarily. If something like that were to happen in the town we lived in we would not want to talk about it. The people in Chelmno may still be getting over what had happened and talking about what happened only brings back bad memories for them. The priest was easier to talk to because he was not originally from Chelmno and he just learned about it through readings and people talking about it. Living there and knowing how bad things were versus just learning about it and then going to live there are two totally different things, that have different feelings about the place and can not be compared.
I think they had a right to be rude if you think about it that town has been through a lot and I know when something really bad happens to me I really don’t want to to about it either and what happened to them is way worse that has happened to me. So I defiantly see where they are coming from.
I don’t necessarily think they had a right to be rude, I just think that they expect people to know about what happened that way they don’t have to ask about it. They get frustrated when it is brought up because that immediately makes them think of the cruel things that happened at Chelmno and they don’t like to talk about it or think about it.
The Polish people were rude to Becca I do agree with that but I also believe that they didn’t mean to be as rude as they were. I think it just happen because it was bringing back all the bad memories that they didn’t want to remember and I think that’s why they were being rude to Becca.
When Becca and Magda are driving they pass birch trees and both talk about how they are their favorite tree. Magda tells Becca that her professor told her that it was once believed that birch trees housed souls of the dead. Magda also told Becca that many people in Poland cut down the branches of the birch and take it to their homes to put around the window. Are they doing this because they feel like the souls are still with them?
That is my thought too. Losing someone is very hard to deal with, this was a surprise that they do things like this. Everyone has there own way with dealing with grief.
I agree with this , they knew what was going on but they couldn’t do one thing about it or they would be risking their lives.
I like that you brought this up, Courtney. I think that they put the birch branches around their windows so the souls have a sort of closure with the physical world. These people know what happened in Chelmno and want the spirits that are housed in the birch trees to have some sort of relief or a feeling of comfort knowing they suffered a horrible and unjustifiable death.
I feel like that is a possibility because like Greg said losing someone isn’t very easy to forget about and is very hard to deal with. We just aren’t use to it and think that it is different because we don’t do that around here in our time.
That could be the reason why the polish people put the branches around their windows, as a way to remember the people who had past away. Maybe it could also be used as a sign that the souls were released after being cut down, as a way to remember that the souls had moved on finding peace.
I was also thinking why they would cut down the branches of the birch and take them home and put them around the windows. I was thinking that maybe if one of there family members pasted away and that would bring there memories back into there home and help them remember there family members that past.
When they went to Poland a lot of people were being rude to them and not wanting to talk about what had happened there, with all the people that died.In chapter 20-23 the castle is revealed, which is not really a castle but a death camp. The castle is not like that from the book but different. In the story the princess is trapped in the castle, just like how Gemma was trapped in the death camp, living in a horrible conditions.
Yeah to think that she was living in a castle but yet she was trapped there can make things pretty interesting since she must have been a prisoner of war.
Indeed, not to mention she faced death their every day since it was an extermination camp.
I think Gemma was trapped in the castle. So she think the story was about her Because she was trapped in a castle in the story.
Imagine being a part of that time period, would you want to tell random people about your horrifying past. Just picturing what they might have went through is chilling. Becca is discovering more about the past of her Jewish grandmother and what she has been through in her life time. She is shocked when she finds out the castle is not like she imagined in the story but is part of a horrific past.
Gemma for sure was a prisoner in the castle. I think she made the story out to what a castle should be like and made the story happy and positive for the girls.
Chelmno had been a horrible place at one time, which is the reason that the people there won’t talk about its past. When Magda and Becca ask about what had happened in Chelmno, the people will not speak to them and some become defensive. This is a place were memories are not wanted, people would rather forget the past and what had happened to themselves and their families. Eventually Becca and Magda find one person who is willing to talk to them, the priest, who is the only person willing to tell them of the horrible past of Chelmno. Chelmno ends up being the the castle that Gemma had referred to in her stories, and the castle she asked Becca to find. Becca had kept her promise and has now found the castle, although it is a horrible finding.
Does anyone else think that its a little odd that no one in Chelmno wants to talk about what happened there? I get that it was a terrible event in their history but why is it so hard to talk about it after so many years has passed. Did they know that the extermination camp was going on during the war or were they completely ignorant of the whole thing?
I agree with what your saying but they had to have known something was going on. That was a lot of people going into that camp and never coming back out. It was an extermination camp for a reason. There is no way that they didn’t have some clue as to what was going on behind those walls.
Michael, Even though this event happened many years ago, people are not comfortable talking about the things that happened during this time period. Extermination camps were a huge part to the history of the wars and they would rather forget about the whole thing.
If we forget what happened in the past then we will eventually repeat it. There needs to be an open discussion about what happened there. They can’t just put something like that away in a closet and forget about it, thats just wrong. This event in time is too horrible and too big to just simply forget.
How could anyone forget genocide of an entire race? It can’t just be ignored, yet they want to ignore it like it didn’t happen. Impossible!
Greg I do agree with you. People would rather just move on and forget about horrid things that happened to them in their past. People in the camps knew what was going on, I mean they had to of known about it. They just let it go on. I think that is guilt that they don’t want to face.
I was just about to post something like this! I felt the same way! I understand that it was a horrible event, like you said, but why won’t anyone talk about it? Most of the people that live there now were probably not even alive while the exterminating was taking place. Honestly, I feel like the people of Chelmno are being a little dramatic. Obviously something happened there and it was horrifying, but there is importance in it. It’s history and cannot be denied.
I feel the same way Nicole there’s something odd about how no one but the priest will talk about anything to do with the holocaust. It just doesn’t seem right and what Magda said the men said to her just doesn’t make Chelmno seem like a good place to be.
I think it would be hard to talk about what happen there. Some of the people could be part of it and that why they don’t want to talk about it. Yes it the pass but the guilt is still there.
I feel like their certain people out there who really want to share their story about something tragic that has happened in their lifetime. Certain people want to tell their story and pass it down so other people can share it. I definitely understand that it was a very terrible time for them, but it is a good learning point and people who don’t know much about it could learn a lot from the people of Chelmno.
Father Stashu says, “I cannot forgive them, you know. I can love them but I cannot forgive them. But then – I do not have to. I am not God.” Who is he referring to here do you think? And why?
I believe that he is referring to the German Nazis for what they have done to the community and what they had done to all of the people that they imprisoned during the war.
I agree with you Zeb. Father Stashu isn’t God and he’s saying that he doesn’t have to forgive them for what they did but he can try to love them. They did a horrible thing and for Father Stashu to say that he can love them is a huge thing for that community even though he can’t forgive them.
I think that he could possibly be referring to the people that put everyone through such torture and pain. Like Zeb said for what they have done to the community. It’s kind of like the one quote “Time may heal wounds, but it won’t erase scars.”
I also believe that he is referring to the Germans for doing this to other people. Father Stashu like the others in Chelmno cannot forgive the Germans for what they did to their loved ones and never will forget or forgive. Father Stashu said also, “I can love them but I cannot forgive them. But then- I do not have to. I am not God.” He is saying that since he is not God he doesn’t have to forgive even though he is a priest.
I believe Father Stashu is referring to the Nazis and what they did to the jews at the extermination camp.
This also brings back the thoughts of the quote, “Time may heal wounds, but it won’t erase scars.” People can try not to think about this horrific event, but the fact of the matter is that it happened and nothing can change that.
It does bring the quote “Time may heal wounds, But it won’t erase scars.” The people still have all the bad memories of Chelmno and what they were doing. They could not stop the Germans from exterminating people because they didn’t have the force they need, plus they may have been fearing that they would be next if they tried to stop what was going on. The wounds you have had healed over time but the memories of what happened at Chelmno scarred them emotionally and maybe even physically for life.
I think he is referring to the Germans or Nazis that killed thousands of innocent jews. He is saying he could never forgive them but he could love them. Then he thinks well I am not God so therefore I do not have to forgive them or love them. God forgives everyone if you ask for forgiveness but in Father Stashu’s case he is not God so he does not have to forgive them. Then again what they did to those innocent Jews is very wrong and they should not be forgived or loved by any man. I know I would not forgive them for what they have done when it is that serious!
Dallas, I never thought of this. Indeed they did kill innocent jews for no reason at all. That is powerful Dallas what you said about how they should not be “forgived or loved by any man.” I think thats true and that what they did to the jews was a sin.
He is referring to the ones that started the camp, the Nazis. Its pretty obvious why, they ares the only ones who wanted the extermination of the jewish people to happen and it is the only thing I can think of that only God would be able to forgive someone for. The fact that even a priest can’t forgive them is proof enough.
I have to agree with everyone else here and say that Father Stashu was talking about the Germans who took over Chelmno and turned it into an extermination/death camp. It’s hard to forgive the Nazis especially when you know that there was absolutely no reason to murder so many innocent people. I feel like it even takes a massive amount of courage to say that you can love them knowing what they did was so horrible.
Father Stashu is referring to the Nazis because of all the horrible things they did to all the innocent people. When everything happened at Chelmno, it was a big deal. The people who were involved in Chelmno will always have the horrible memories. If I was him, I wouldn’t be able to forgive them either.
Exactly. Even people that weren’t directly involved. Like the next the generation. As Mrs. Seidel just said, people that live near Chelmno present day would still feel horrible knowing that the town knew what was going on.
Father Stashu says ” I cannot forgive them, you know. I can love them but I cannot forgive them. But then – I do not have to. I am not God.” By saying this I believe he is talking about the people of Chelmno. He is saying that he can’t forgive them for not wanting to talk about it and make things better but he can still love them as they are. Father Stashu also says though that he is not God and that he does not have to love them. This makes me think that he will help whoever he can but if they are not willing, he will not take his time to help them as much as he would if they were willing. Also by saying he is not God, I think he is pushing the blame off of himself for not loving the ones who he cannot help.
I agree with you Karlie. He is referring to the people of Chelmno. But why would he be referring to them? Why can’t he forgive them? Is it just because they won’t talk?
I think he might be referring to them because they did not speak out about the horrors the jews were going through and how they did not help them. The people of Chelmno had to have known that the jews were being exterminated and just didn’t do anything about it. This might also be another reason why they don’t talk about it because to regret not doing anything about it.
I think there is more to it than just not wanting to talk about it. I think that it has to do with not want the past to come back up. The people of Chelmno not only don’t want to talk about it, they don’t even want to think about the past. It’s like if they talk about it, they will relive it themselves with the heartache and the pain. But not talking about it makes it harder for the people to get over the past. Father Stashu wants the people to talk about it so they will understand how life is now and how it is different than it was in the past.
I also agree , the people of Chelmno should be ashamed and feel guilty of what they did, but we are taught in life “to forgive those who have trespassed against us and deliver them from evil “. If we can help forgive those who had no choice they will be able to cope a little better in life.
It seems Father Stashu is referring to the people who had caused all the pain and death during the Holocaust, the Nazis. Father Stashu and many others will never be able to forgive them for what they had done to some many innocent people, killing them without a groundless reason. These types of sins put hate among the people who’s families and themselves had endured, which is the reason why they will never find a way to forgive and move on from the past. The only person who can forgive is God, who is able to forgive anyone who asks for forgiveness.
What do you guys think will happen to Magda and Becca after Becca is done. When Becca goes back home what will happen? I think that Becca might bring Madga back with her. They seem to really be connecting and throughout this journey Becca is going through they will become only closer.
I think that Becca and Magda will still be good friends but I don’t think Magda will go home with Becca. Magda is the type of person who will not leave her aunt by herself in Poland. I think the two will keep in touch and visit each other quite often but Becca will go back home well Magda stays in Poland.
I can see them staying friends thats for sure Taryn. Becca and Magda are growing very close, and defiantly have a friendly relationship. However I can not see Magda just leaving her home land to come back with Becca to live in America. She might visit her and learn more about America, but I can’t see her moving to America.
Thats a good question Taryn! I think that with the time it takes Becca to find everything she wants to know about Gemma that Magda and Becca will become a lot closer. In the end I think that Becca will try to bring back Magda with her to America. Either that or Magda will ask Becca to come back with her.
Yeah. Magda is the only person who really believes in Becca. At home, everyone just laughs at Becca. No one takes her seriously. Magda is the only one who really believes in Becca. I think that this is why they are so close. When Becca moves back to America, I think that she will miss the respect and the connection she got from Magda that she doesn’t get back at home.
Magda and Becca’s relationship I agree is a lot better they are a lot closer now.
I think that Magda will go back with Becca is done Just to see what America is like. Magda will bring her aunt along to. I also see Becca coming back to see Magda if she does not go to America.
Magda has helped Becca tremendously. They have grown close during this trip, so I bet they will keep in touch after Becca gets home. Magda might visit Becca in America just to see how things are, but I don’t think Magda will go live with Becca in America. Since Becca is such a nice person, I can see her wanting to give back to Magda after all the help she has gave her.
It is hard telling what will happen to Magda and Becca once Becca is finished. I think that maybe Becca will definitely try to take Magda back, but I’m not so sure that Magda will come with her. If she decides not to go with Becca, they will definitely stay in touch.
That’s definitely something to think about, I feel like it would be a happy ending to the story if Magda just came back with Becca, however I do not see that happening. Even after living in the area so long, Magda is learning almost as much as Becca is. I believe that it will bring out an even bigger curiosity in Magda and she will want to learn even more about the death camps during the Holocaust after Becca returns home. I agree that they will remain good friends and write to each other, but I think Magda will continue researching the past.
Magda tells Becca, “Ah, you want an ending to the story. Not every story has an end, my friend, Becca.” I don’t necessarily agree with her. Every story has an ending it’s a matter of someone wanting to find the end of the story. Every story has an ending because there needs to be a closure. Every story has a beginning and an end. I think this is the main reason why Becca is finding the truth out about Gemma. She needs the closure to move forward and understand everything.
That so good I like how you put that, about how every story does have an ending, and it’s all about if that person wants to end it and how. Things in life do need closure. This is the truth of every story does have a beginning middle and an end.
I agree that every story does have an ending just some aren’t told and some don’t want to be heard. I think that Becca has to find the ending to the story her grandma was telling her before she starts a new journey in her life without her Gemma. I think if Becca get the end of the story Gemma was telling she would be ready to start a new chapter in her life.
I feel like Gemma was in the concentration camp and the 100 year “mist” is actually just the sadness and grief of everyone dying. Her “prince” was probably a man who helped her escape the camp and because her experiences were so horrifying, she made it a fairytale to put her mind as ease.
I thought this to but then became puzzled once Becca had found out that no one had escaped the camp.
I agree with you this is what I thought of about the connection of the story and how it relates to Gemma’s past with the extermination camp.
I like the way you put this. I imagined the mist to be the gas chanbers during the Holocust. I imagined her prince as someone who helped her, but when tells us that Gemma says the prince disapears after the wedding at the end of the story I pictured that who ever helped her got caught or captured and taken away.
This is a great post Alanna. I feel like the whole story of Briar Rose is just a huge metaphor. The castle is just a metaphor for the camp. The German Nazis are the “Evil Fairy Godmother” that put people in the camps “castle”. Then just like you said her “prince” could be the guy that helped her escape. It’s so creative how Gemma made her terrible past a story to educate her grandchildren.
I definitely did not consider this thought Alanna, but after reading your post it actually makes sense they way you are thinking about it. This could be what happened, but we still won’t know until the end. In a way I feel like Gemma survived and escaped Chelmno, but they say that no woman had every escaped.
After discovering everything Becca has so far, Im curious to find out if Stan or herself will actually write a story about it. It would be tough to write a story about something horrible that happened to my grandmother. But in another aspect I would want people to know more about the history of what happened and that not every story was a happy one and not everyone survived.
Well I couldn’t agree with you more completely. If I was into reporting, I would write a story about my grandmothers past. And about happy endings? At least she knows that the ending was happy. Gemma lived the rest of her life in America, Happy with a beautiful family.
Was she happy? I’m not convinced. Yes she was proud of her family but was she happy? She seemed to live under a cloud and that story, ugh how dark and depressing!!!!
Yes she was happy with her family, but she always told that story. I think it was her way of not being able to let go or forget her past.
I think that writing a story about her grandmother would be ideal. Think about Becca, though. She is so shy and is content with herself. I think that once Becca finds out what happened in Gemma’s past, that will be enough for her. Becca doesn’t feel the need to share her stories.
If Becca was going to write a book about everything that happened in Gemma’s life it would definitely be interesting. Like you said Brittney, it would be tough to write about my grandmother’s emotional story. But then again, it would honestly be an amazing story considering Gemma escaped the horrible camp where some people didn’t even survive.
Sorry typed too fast.
I really hope that once Becca gets back home, she and Stan become a romance and bond through their experiences. I definitely think there is chemistry between them, they are both just too scared to admit it.
This aint 50 Shades!
shut up Noah
It confuses me how “no one escaped” but if Gemma was there how can they say this.
Gemma’s “prince” saved her or helped her get away.
BOOM Britnaaayyyy. She’s write. Im curious who this prince is. But first we have to find out more about this castle. Was she actually a princes? Or was she called a princess because of her looks and the way she carried herself. Somehow Gemma is tied to that castle.
She must have escaped somehow. I am really curious to find out how she escaped and the truth to the story!
I got a theory of how she escaped. What if the prince was a NAZI and he liked Gemma and did not like being a Nazi but he had to join anyways. Now a nazi will be like the only one capable of letting her escape the camp. OR maybe its 1945, the war is about to end and an American troops goes in to save them and Becca meets on of the soldiers and likes him.
It is crazy that Gemma is the only person known to escape the camp. Hopefully Becca can figure out how she escaped because I can’t wait to find out.
Lets not forget, Becca KNOWS THE ENDING of the story. And it was happy, was it not? Gemma may have had a hard time in Chelmno, but she lived the rest of her life in America and started a wonderful family. Becca is just finding a blank spot in Gemma’s time line.
Becca is just going through with what she promised Gemma. Even if she had a good life in America.
Yah. That post was mostly for the other students. 😛
I totally agree. Becca knows her Gemma’s life story, she is just missing the last piece to the puzzle. Becca is just trying to figure out her Gemma’s story and early adulthood.
Any guesses as to why Gemma just didn’t tell her? Why did she tell Becca to seek the answer herself?
Maybe Gemma didn’t tell Becca because she wanted Becca to find out on her own. This way Becca will find out more about herself at the same time as finding out about Gemma’s past.
Becca does know the ending. She had a great life with Gemma. Becca hasn’t really thought much about how sad she is about Gemma’s death because she is too focused on finding out about Gemma’s past. I think that once Becca finds out what all Gemma’s stories meant, she will cry tears of joy and have a closure.
If Gemma would to have just told Becca, it would have defeated the purpose. The journey that leads to the end is the most important thing, not just knowing the ending without going through the experience.
I too think that Gemma sent Becca off on this journey so she wouldn’t be so focused on Gemma’s death. I think that Gemma wanted Becca to always be happy and that’s why she told Sleeping Beauty because Becca loved it so much. Gemma was trying to protect her from knowing the awful past that has happened to her.
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