Category : Poland

Ted Schroder–the Prophetic Imagination of Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

In 1960 he moved to San Francisco to become Professor of Slavic Languages at the University of California at Berkeley. He experienced cultural shock and depression by his new environment far different from Europe. It was not until he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 at age 69 that his work became universally recognized. Hitherto his writing in Polish was proscribed in Poland. He was able to return home to visit and was feted for expressing the angst of his generation and nation. In 2000 he moved to Krakow where he died and was buried in Skalka, a crypt belonging to the monastery of the Pauline Fathers in close proximity to many of Poland’s major artists.

In contrast to many intellectuals he was pessimistic in appraising life because he had experienced the power of Evil. He believed passionately in the Devil because he had seen his face in the Nazis and in the Soviets. He was discouraged by his students at Berkeley who were indifferent toward Christianity. In teaching Dostoevsky he came into serious conflict with them when he openly acknowledged the existence of good and evil, which they dismissed as reactionary. “They took it as given that human behavior was governed by certain social and psychological ‘determinants,’, that, in other words, all values were relative. Just so, Russian intellectuals of the last century shifted moral responsibility onto the ‘environment’: change the society and you change the man. And it was precisely this denial of individual responsibility that Dostoevsky took as depressing proof of Christianity’s decline among educated Russians.”

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Posted in History, Poetry & Literature, Poland

Archbp Justin Welby–Reflections from Auschwitz

Here are three things that will stay with me:

First is the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims ”“ in a way that actually cost the humanity of both. It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live ”“ and were then killed themselves. Others gave their lives, like St Maximilian Kolbe and St Edith Stein.

Second, these atrocities were committed by ordinary people. When one of the priests leading our retreat was asked who was to blame, he said: “People did it to people.”

Third, it was idolatrous and demonic.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, Germany, History, Parish Ministry, Poland, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology

(Bloomberg) Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor Who Wrote for the Dead, Dies, 87

“I wrote feverishly, breathlessly, without rereading. I wrote to testify, to stop the dead from dying, to justify my own survival,” he recalled in a 1995 memoir.
The resulting manuscript was published in 1955 in Argentina, to little notice, as “Un di Velt Hot Geshvign,” or “And the World Remained Silent.” The following year, at the urging of French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel translated the work into French, and it was published in 1958 as “La Nuit,” or “Night.” An English version was published in the U.S. in 1960.
It had limited early success. The first run of 3,000 copies took three years to sell. Wiesel gained a larger following in the 1970s, as American colleges began delving into Holocaust studies. In 1976, the National Jewish Conference Center in New York convened a meeting on “The Work of Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust Universe.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Poland, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Is Brexit bad news for Poland?

Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, about two million Poles have left in search of higher paid jobs, many of them heading to the UK, where they can earn up to four times as much doing the same job here.
It is estimated 850,000 Poles now live in the UK, making them the largest non-British nationality. Poland’s National Bank reckons Poles send home more than $1bn (£728m) a year, driving consumption in many parts of the country.
For Poles in the UK, especially those who have not lived there for the five years needed to apply for permanent residency, the future is uncertain.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Poland, Politics in General, Theology

***Must not Miss***-From Polish orphan to Alabama's kicker: Adam Griffith's incredible story

Watch it all–a super powerful story about love and adoption; KSH

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Poland, Sports, Theology

(WSJ) Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs–A Trapdoor to a Tale of Nazi-Era Sacrifice

On Dec. 6, 1942, 10 German soldiers marched into Rekówka, a Polish village 90 miles south of Warsaw. They’d received a tip from some locals that two families, the Skoczylas and Kosioróws, were sheltering Jews. When the Germans apprehended the families in their shared house, all but four of its inhabitants were at home. The soldiers spotted a trapdoor in the kitchen, which opened to a small, but empty, hiding place. They demanded that the families reveal the whereabouts of the stowaways, but nobody would talk. The soldiers took them to the barn behind the house, locked them inside and burned them alive. When two of the boys tried to escape, they were shot in the back.

Almost 72 years later, in August 2014, a cultural investigator named Jonny Daniels lifted that trapdoor for the first time since the surviving family members sealed it off years ago. He lowered himself down a ladder into a dark, damp space, with no light source and a floor covered with straw. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had uncovered the only known World War II hiding place for Jews that has remained intact and undisturbed since the end of the war.

On Thursday, after a year of negotiations and research, the space became an official heritage site in Poland, the only one of its kind.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Poland, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Haaretz) Nobody wanted to hear our stories: Israeli Auschwitz survivors look back

As a young pilot of 24, Avraham Harshalom found himself hospitalized at Tel Hashomer hospital. He suggested to the doctor that while he was there, he could remove the tattoo from his left arm. “At that age you just want to be like everyone else,” he says. “People would see the tattoo and look at you differently.”

Sitting in the lobby of the Krakow Holiday Inn, Harshalom is for once surrounded by men and women who are not different to him. He is one of more than a hundred survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau who have been brought here by the World Jewish Congress to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The survivors are at the center of attention here, surrounded by family members and well-wishers. Everyone is aware that this could well be the last reunion of such a large group of survivors.

Another thing these grandparents and great-grandparents in their late eighties and nineties have in common is that for decades after liberation, they did not share their experiences. They just tried to be like everyone else.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Israel, Middle East, Poland, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Washington Post) Dwindling group of survivors to mark Auschwitz 70 years on

A decade ago, 1,500 Holocaust survivors traveled to Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation. On Tuesday, for the 70th anniversary, organizers are expecting 300, the youngest in their 70s.

“In 10 years there might be just one,” said Zygmunt Shipper, an 85-year-old survivor who will attend the event in southern Poland to pay homage to the millions killed by the Third Reich. In recent years, Shipper has been traveling around Britain to share his story with school groups, hoping to reach as many people as he can while he has the strength.

“The children cry, and I tell them to talk to their parents and brothers and sisters and ask them ”˜why do we do it and why do we hate?’” he said. “We mustn’t forget what happened.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Poland, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(BBC) Poland Stun Germany, beating them 2-0 in a Euro 2016 qualifying Match

World champions Germany lost for the first time in 19 competitive matches as Poland beat them to move top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

Arkadiusz Milik’s 51st-minute header was added to late on by Sebastian Mila’s sweeping finish.

Poland had never before beaten Germany, who had also not lost in 33 previous qualifiers, a run dating back to 2007.

The Poles move above Republic of Ireland on goal difference and next host Scotland on Tuesday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Men, Poland, Sports

(WSJ) Ben Cohen: Jews and Muslims Unite–Over Meat

…those leading the battle to protect ritual slaughter don’t believe their opponents are driven by anti-Jewish bigotry. “This has more to do with ignorance,” said Jonathan Ornstein, a former New Yorker who heads the Jewish Community Center in Krakow.

Mr. Ornstein and Rabbi Schudrich both described a relentless campaign by animal-rights activists, inundating members of parliament with dozens of emails and phone calls each day. The protestors regularly make false claims, including that kosher slaughter is outlawed in the U.S. This pressure, along with support from a rebel faction of the ruling Civic Platform party, caused the defeat of the government’s pro-ritual slaughter bill in July.

With the High Court ruling on the horizon””Rabbi Schudrich expects it to be delivered by the end of this year””advocates for ritual slaughter want to ensure that the decision goes their way. To avoid reducing the controversy to one about anti-Semitism, Messrs. Schudrich and Ornstein are emphasizing the idea that ritual slaughter is predicated on the importance of animals suffering as little as possible. The message is buttressed by the fact that both men are vegetarians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Europe, Poland, Religion & Culture

(Denver Catholic Register) George Weigel–Where the 20th century happened

This past August, while contemplating the beauties of the Ottawa River from the deck of my family’s cottage on Allumette Island, Father Raymond de Souza, the Canadian commentator and a former-student-become-friend-and-colleague, offered an interesting take on World Youth Day 2016, which will be held in Cracow. When you think about it, he said, “the 20th century happened in Cracow.”

I think I know what Father de Souza meant. Cracow and its people suffered terribly under both Nazi and communist occupation; the murders at Auschwitz took place a few dozen kilometers away; the city-without-God, Nowa Huta, was built outside Cracow, as payback for the city’s failure to vote correctly in a bogus communist election. Yet the bad news was not all the news there was, in Cracow. For in this same city, the divine answer to the unprecedented human wickedness of the 20th century was given, in the visions of the divine mercy that seized the religious imagination of an obscure Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska. And it was from Cracow that there came a man who brought Sister Faustina’s message of divine mercy to the world.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Other Churches, Poland, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NY Times) Horror Sufferers Separated by Age and by Continent, but United by Spirit to Survive

The two men grew up on separate continents, speaking their own languages. One was not yet 20; the other was bearing down on 100.

Yet within half an hour of meeting each other this week for the first time, Henry Kabiyona and Sol Rosenkranz knew each other’s stories before the words reached their lips.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Europe, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Poland, Religion & Culture, Rwanda, Violence

World's Oldest Survivor of Auschwitz Dies at 108

n official says the oldest known former prisoner of the Auschwitz death camp has died in Poland at the age of 108.

Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum, says Antoni Dobrowolski died Sunday in the northwestern town of Debno.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Germany, History, Poland

(From 2008) In Orphans’ Twilight, Memories of a Polish Pediatrician who Changed the World

They are in their 80s now, the last living links to Janusz Korczak, the visionary champion of children’s rights who refused to part with his young charges even as they were herded to the gas chambers.

When they speak of him, the old men are young again: transported to their days in his orphanage, a place they remember as a magical republic for children as the Nazi threat grew closer.

“It was a utopia,” said Shlomo Nadel, 85, one of the surviving orphans who managed to flee Poland before the Jewish orphanage was forced into the ghetto.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Europe, Health & Medicine, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Poland, Religion & Culture

(ReachMD) The Amazing story of Dr. Janucz Korczak (1878-1942), pioneering pediatrician

Herewith the blurb about the show:

Dr. Janucz Korczak (1878-1942) was a Polish-Jewish pediatrician who had revolutionary ideas about humanism for children, and was one of the first proponents of children’s rights. He established the first progressive orphanages in Poland, and wrote numerous books on child psychology, including How to Love a Child and the Child’s Right to Respect. Pediatrician Dr. Susan Weisberg describes how Dr. Korczak has inspired her life’s work, and tells the story of Dr. Korczak’s tragic but noble Holocaust death. Dr. Michael Greenberg hosts.

You can play it or get it via podcast (last about 14 and 1/2 minutes and requires [free] registration). This was the highlight of the week for me–KSH [Hat tip: Elizabeth Harmon]. If you are unable or unwilling to access this recent ReachMD show, do take the time to explore this NPR piece from 2007 here (full transcript there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Europe, Health & Medicine, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Poland, Religion & Culture