You could think that, as the Polish society, we know quite a lot about the history of Jews. Associations with WW2 and the Holocaust come to mind. And what do we know about the psychological burden which Jews cope with today? What do we know about their everyday struggles?
The screening of the film “The Proof of Identity” by Mikołaj Grynberg was a good impulse to start the discussion with students. On March 9th, the students of the Complex of the Grammar and Vocational Schools in Trzemeszno had the chance to see this documentary, thanks to the project run by the POLIN Museum in Warsaw.
At the beginning their attitude was neutral, as they could expect one more interview, similar to many others that they had seen before. Not that time, as they said later. Grynberg had presented the silhouettes of several characters of Jewish origin and had been talking with them about their sense of identity. What do they think about themselves? After the show, the students were discussing how Jews were perceived nowadays. They were discussing their nationality and belonging. The film had also provoked the discussion about the students’ identity. Can you be the citizen of a country but not feel like a part of it? Am I a Pole and an European or an European and a Pole?
On the one hand, the conclusions drawn by the students are worrying, but on the other hand, I am glad that they are sensitive to the experiences of other people. They concluded that it was not easy to be Jewish in Poland. They also stated that they did not understand the reluctance to them, as they were the members of our society and their religion and culture were absolutely no reason for discrimination or, simply put, antisemitism.
Polish language teacher
ZSOiZ (the Schools Complex) in Trzemeszno
Translated by Jolanta Woźniakowska