3,500,000 Jews lived in pre Holocaust Poland, 3,000,000 were murdered and 500,000 tried to start life over after the war. With the coming of Communism and a wave of anti-Semitic violence, the majority fled for the west and for Israel. In 1968 a government-sponsored program against Jews sent another 20,000 out of the country. Every government since democracy returned in 1989, however, has been strongly positive to the country's Jewish institutions and organizations. Although the number of Jews living in Poland today has been exaggerated, what is not in dispute is that this small community is quite lively, with a Jewish school and kindergarten, an active synagogue in Warsaw, and Jewish community centers in Warsaw and Cracow.
Regarding elderly Jews in Poland today, those who we interviewed, they are scattered about the country in Warsaw, Lublin, Legnica, Cracow and a few other towns. Our interview team was headed by Anka Grupinska, a noted author of three books on Polish-Jewish relations.
Anka also served in Poland's embassy in Israel for six years during the 1990s and currently hosts a Jewish cultural program on public radio in Warsaw.
Our Polish project is unique: until Anka and her team begun seeking out these last witnesses to a world destroyed, no one-to our knowledge--had ever interviewed them about their lives in pre-Holocaust Poland.
That makes this archive of stories and images all the more compelling, and all the more useful for historians, archivists and social anthropologists.