Jews have lived in Poland for 900 years. Some polish villages and towns are sacred for religious Jews. For others, there are simply a lot of places that played an important role in their lives, then and now. There were 3,5 million Jews living in Poland before the Second World War. After the war and repatriation from the Soviet Union only 250 thousand Jews remained. In 1968 there were only about 25 thousand.

Photographs that the Jews took with them

After the events of March ’68, the inevitable economic collapse, the hatred campaign, the bullying of Jewish people and students protesting at universities around the country, 15 thousand Jews have left Poland with one-way ticket. Some deprived of their degrees, others deprived of their cherished possessions and family memorabilia, often saved from the ghetto.Emigrants of March ’68 were working in all of the Solidarity offices around the World. During the martial law in Poland they were helping Poles, providing not only medication for hospitals, food packages, but also prohibited printing and copying equipment.For 20 years Jewish emigrants were not allowed to enter Poland, even if   only to visit sick or dying relatives. This wasn’t a part of postwar European history, and nobody has been punished for those crimes.

50 years have passed since that time of contempt and enslavement. I asked for photographs that are important for the generation of March ’68. They came from all around the world. I’ve also contributed my own, from the period after I’ve left Poland, on the 10th of January 1969. I want to rescue our  story from being forgotten. What we were up to after leaving Poland, a country so important for the history of Jews.

I would like to thank everyone who sent photographs and helped with this project. Especially Leopold Sobel from England and Sweden, Henryk Lewkowicz from Canada, Simon Fish from Denmark, Shimon Langier from Israel, Valery Amiel and Anna Frajlich from the United States, Slawek Zylinski and Kasia Warman from Sweden, Natan Pass from Sweden,Julia Nowowiejska from Warsaw and Przemysław Hebel from Nextserv in Gdynia for their cooperation.
Leo Kantor