This story was written by Andrzej
I talked to a friend yesterday. We have shared memories of the same city and the same school, and had similar experiences. Later our fates separated themselves. He became an analyst, achieved significant professional success. I became a doctor. We harked back to our youth: an elite high school in a city once teeming with Jewish tradition, Polish language taught by a young teacher who held her PhD in philosophy, history lessons conducted by an elderly man who still remembered the times before the Great War… Neither during Polish nor during the history lessons, however, we got to know the Jewish history of our city. A story of love and hatred between our grandparents and the murdered Jewish population. We didn’t learn much about the Polish responsibility for the evil done to our ancestors’ neighbours.
With sadness we both admitted that we had lived among houses that kept their own secrets for themselves – a history of their inhabitants that nobody ever had told us anything about.
While the sins of our ancestors included indifference towards the Jews, sometimes death wish, denunciation or murder – we added our own contribution. Condemning those human beings to oblivion.
Only two years ago did my friend get to know the details of his grandfather’s life. It was before the WWII when his grandfather had a production plant in a small town. During the war he employed Jews there in order to protect them. They were friends.
His Polish neighbours reported it to the Gestapo. The grandfather barely escaped alive and spent a fortune on bribes. After the war, he never spoke a single word to anyone from this town. He left his patrimony.
Today we try to live consciously. When we visit our erstwhile hometown, the streets and the tenement houses open their old fates wide to us.