“We share a beautiful history, as well as a very complex and tragic one. It is our obligation to partner around the enormous history which we have forgotten. Then we can heal the very painful wounds of the Holocaust and connect with Polish people.”
Robert Bank, Executive Vice-President, American Jewish World Service
Poles and jews living abroad have been isolated not only by distance, but also by their separate memories. After 1989, when the borders opened and soon afterwards Poland and Israel established diplomatic relations, tens of thousands of young Jews started visiting Poland to pay tribute to the victims of the extermination camps. At the same time, families traveled to places connected with the lives of their ancestors. Such visits stir up a whole spectrum of emotions. There have already been books and plays written about Jews returning to Poland to visit sites connected with their family histories. Documentaries, press articles and private stories about these experiences abound. And the experience can go right or wrong, although it’s always an emotional one. How do you find traces of family in a foreign, barely recognizable space? How do you give it meaning? There is yet another aspect to these returns – the new residents’ uncertainty: how should they treat these visitors, and what do they want? How should they talk with and understand each other?
The latter still live here, the former will come back. Is it possible for them to meet?