restricted access 4. Notes for a Grave under Snow
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As an Australian Jew of Polish parents, I have childhood memories that are filled with narratives of the events surrounding my late parents ’ traumatic escape from the Holocaust that engulfed many members of their families. They had lived in Łódź, Poland, until September 1939, when, in the face of the Nazi invasion, they had fled to the east, and then north to Lithuania to avoid the Soviet invasion.1 I visited Łódź for the first time during the martial law year of 1983. At that time I was taken by a friend to the grave of my grandfather in the Jewish cemetery. It was a wartime marvel, a slab of concrete with my grandfather’s name and that of my (“tragically murdered”) grandmother on it, somehow cared for through forty years of various occupations. The Graves under Snow I returned to Łódź with my partner Mara Moustafine in the icy spring of 2003, but I was not able to find the grave. The cemetery lay under many centimeters of new snow, and my memory could not discern where the grave should have been, even if it had not crumbled in the twenty years of communist and postcommunist neglect. A few days later we stood on a platform in Koluszki, a railway junction , staring at the graffiti blasted across the waiting shelter wall: “Żydy do gazu”—“Jews to the gas.” Whatever serendipity had brought us there (we had just missed the train to Piotrków Trybunalski, my grandfather’s  Notes for a Grave under Snow andrew jakubowicz  CDI:H ;DG 6 8O  vival rested serendipitously on whatever particular constellation of their lives’ parameters was salient for the administering power. Jewish Possibilities in Łódź, 1939 In 1939 there were several alternative visions of Jewish futures alive in the culture of Jewish Poland.4 This chapter examines what happened to these visions in the wake of the Holocaust, as expressed in the writing and reflections of three writers, former Łódź residents who migrated to Australia after the war, and a Polish historian who is attempting to hold onto and resurrect the Polish memory of Jewish Łódź. I have chosen Jews whose work is differentiated by their orientation to Poland and Israel, ranging from a secular Polish patriot to a Bundist and a committed Zionist activist. Łódź in 1939 was a metropolis of 900,000, established as an industrial center for the textile trade. The Tsarist government after 1864 opened up opportunities for immigration, and the city became a magnet for Jews from Alsace, from Wielkopolska, and from other parts of both the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. A recent Polish history of the Jewish population describes Łódź as a thriving city of Jews, Poles, and Germans, with the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, built by the industrial magnate Prince Poznański.5 The Poznański palace, factory, and workers’ tenements still stand as symbols of an economic, social, and cultural order, in which political power in the city was shared among the three major groups. The Jewish community reflected the many tendencies—religious and political —that existed in Poland. The Kehillah (Jewish community council) was run by Chassidic Jews in the organization Agudas Israel from nearby Aleksandr ów, with somewhat dubious legitimacy derived from a deal with the Polish nationalists. Their political organizing skills outflanked those of the left- and right-wing Zionists and the Bundists who also participated in the city council.6 Following the Nazi invasion of September 1939, the Bałuty market area in the north of the town—the Jewish working-class quarter—was defined as a ghetto. Forced removals into the area began in November 1939, and the ghetto wall was sealed in May 1940. The so-called Litzmannstadt Ghetto  CDI:H ;DG 6 8O  house is also a museum), a replica of writer Julian Tuwim’s study, a collection of Jerzy Kosinski’s memorabilia, and other pieces. In the basement there is a small corner recalling the Łódź Ghetto, and the name of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, der Alteste der Juden, as he was named by the Nazis. Outside again, and in the main street Piotrkowska, a bronze statue of Rubinstein plays a grand piano on the sidewalk, while a park across the way has a memorial to Tuwim (who now also has a street named after him). One part of the sidewalk is inlaid with brass stars—including one in the name of Roman Polański, another Łódź boy. So we...


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