… Keep reading
Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of my grandmother Kazimiera Żuławska. Below is a translation by Lauren Dubowski of the essay Kazimiera wrote for the remarkable “Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej” [“This One’s from my Fatherland”, info in Polish about it here], a compendium of first-hand recollections by ethnic Poles who helped save Polish Jews during the Nazi German occupation in World War II. My grandmother was a remarkable woman, and I’m very grateful to Lauren for bringing her words to English readers.
p.s. Eagle-eyed readers will note this is the first TM post in 6 years!
A dream about living under Nazi occupation
Kazimiera Zulawska, Marek’s mother, was born on this day, 22 February, in 1883. In this excerpt from Study for a Self-Portrait, we get a glimpse of her stalwart attitude when she and Wawrzyniec (her youngest son) were hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
The German bombers have flown away, the sirens have gone quiet – a strange silence has fallen. For the moment, London has put its head back on the pillow. Only the fire engines continue putting out flaming houses, while rescue teams search for anybody alive under the rubble. Otherwise, most of the city’s inhabitants sleep.… Keep reading
Romance at the outbreak of World War II: meeting Halina Korn
Halina Korn (born Halina Korngold) was Marek’s second wife, and a respected painter and writer in her own right. They were married for decades until her death on 2 October 1978 – precisely 36 years ago today. Other parts of Study for a Self-Portrait delve into the darker parts of their relationship, particularly Halina’s depression, but I thought I’d introduce her with this lively country-hopping section that includes how she and Marek first met. I particularly like the part about their life in London during the Battle of Britain. – AZ
It was autumn 1938. Yes, a year before the war.… Keep reading
Bureaucracy in Warsaw, 1979
Marek made a trip to communist Poland in 1979 and I found the story pretty entertaining. I’m very familiar with today’s Warsaw, and comparing it with my dad’s frustrated experiences and impressions put a smile on my face. Although Poland is no longer communist, it still has lots of hangovers from that era, and you still encounter the odd story like the one below today… – AZ
Warsaw, which I only got to know once I had grown to be a young man, always struck me as a little exotic, but now even more so than back then. On the one hand, it’s the excruciating, dull bureaucracy and the exaggerated politeness, while on the other, the exceptional loutishness.… Keep reading