The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust

The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust

The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust

The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust

Synopsis

In a turn-of-the-century, once elegant building at 16 Ujazdowskie Avenue in the center of Warsaw, 10 Jewish families began reconstructing their lives after the Holocaust. While most surviving Polish Jews were making their homes in new countries, these families rebuilt on the rubble of the Polish capital and created new communities as they sought to distance themselves from the memory of a painful past. Based on interviews with family members, intensive research in archives, and the families' personal papers and correspondence, Karen Auerbach presents an engrossing story of loss and rebirth, political faith and disillusionment, and the persistence of Jewishness.

Excerpt

At dawn one morning in October 1945, eleven-year-old Zofia Bergman arrived with her mother, Aleksandra, by train into Warsaw, the demolished capital of liberated Poland, after a long journey from the Soviet Union. the cold days of early winter had already set in. Mother and daughter walked through rubble-lined streets, past skeletons of buildings in a barely living city that just six years earlier had been known as the “Paris of the East.”

Zofia did not want to make this journey. More than a decade earlier, her parents, Polish Jews from Vilnius and Hrodno who were prewar communists, had been arrested in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist purges and sent to the Gulag. They were forced to leave Zofia in the care of the infant’s grandmother. Now, in 1945, the child had grown into a serious young girl, strong-willed but good-natured, who wore her hair in long braids and spoke only Russian. Zofia had only recently reunited with a mother she did not know. the girl did not want to leave behind her grandmother and cousins, who did not yet have permission to leave the Soviet Union for Poland.

On Warsaw’s right bank, called Praga, Zofia and her mother headed to a crowded building where many Polish Jews returning from the Soviet Union were finding temporary shelter. a few hours after their arrival . . .

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