Poland in Photographs by Jewish Artists
Chapter 3. Poland without the Jews
Solidarity with Polish Jews could evoke a solidarity with Poland as one of the Jewish homelands. The solidarity is either non-existent or finds no reflection in photographic image, which virtually denies the existence in Poland of human life, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. Does it mean that communal Jewish responsibility does not extend to Polish Jewry? This is how a Polish Jewish student remembers the March of the Living and an evening at an Israeli military base:
In Poland we were reviving a memory, here we were to feel like Jews. In Poland we’d suffered, here we rejoiced, tasting the flavour of Israel. And suddenly everything revealed itself to be an illusion. When representatives of forty-three countries, participants in the March, were called to the stage so that they could each say a few words in front of the microphone, Polish Jews were passed over. It was the greatest humiliation of my life.20
Not only is such denial of Polish Jewry a humiliation; it is outward betrayal. A similar observation is reflected in Louise Steinman’s description of her 2013 conversation with Konstanty Gebert, who tells her that
“‘It’s only been four years since Poles were allowed to participate in the March (…) Before that, there was no Polish participation. Not only was it discouraged, it was forbidden, though Poles would apply.’
‘Even Polish survivors of the camps?’ I asked.
‘Poles. Any Poles,’ (…) The same applied to Polish Jews....
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