Jews and Other Poles

Poland offered Jews some of the best conditions they ever experienced in exile—until it didn’t. How are Poles dealing with that history today?

The 1934 identity card of a Polish Jewish student. Wikipedia.

The 1934 identity card of a Polish Jewish student. Wikipedia.

Ruth R. Wisse
observation
Dec. 21 2015
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is a Mosaic columnist, professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, will be published in September.

Poland! It’s one of those words capable of causing a rift between otherwise perfectly compatible Jewish minds. When I mention an upcoming trip to Warsaw, a friend says: “How can you be going there?! I would never set foot in that place!” On my return, reporting on the country’s warming attitudes toward Jews to another friend who was born and spent her childhood there, she stops me: “I don’t want to hear any more.” I had forgotten for a moment that Polish neighbors had killed her father.

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More about: Europe, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Poland