Michal Jaskulski and Lawrence Loewinger
Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw (June 2016)
St Louis, Camerimage, Docs Against Gravity, Watch Docs, Jewish fests in Warsaw, Copenhagen
A Polish man works towards reconciliation by acknowledging the truth behind a 1946 pogrom against his community’s Jewish population.
On July 4, 1946, approximately 40 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust then living in a shelter at 7 Planty St in the Polish city of Kielce were attacked by townspeople and murdered. More than 80 others were injured in the attack, noted in Jaskulski and Loewinger’s film as the last European pogrom against the Jewish people. In response to this horrific episode, Jews throughout Poland fled the country, cementing the idea that the nation was unwelcome to the Jewish people. After Poland fell to Communism, the story of the pogrom was suppressed, but its impact, and feelings of mistrust and prejudice persisted. When Bogdan Bialek, a Catholic psychologist, learned of the incident, he felt compelled to confront the past openly and acknowledge Kielce’s collective responsibility for the crime. After decades of living in separation from Jewish people, his fellow Poles expressed deep-seated resistance and denial, as demonstrated in this affecting film which follows his continued efforts at truth and reconciliation, drawing on the testimony of survivors to illuminate the contested memories of this disturbing history.