Mieczyslaw Weinryb's collection of pictures and stories provide us with a fascinating glimpse of Jewish life in Poland before the war. He grew up in one of the loveliest small towns in Poland, Zamosc, and through his memories and old pictures, Mieczyslaw takes us into his Zionist youth club, Hashomer Hazair. We also see and hear just how varied Jewish life was in Poland in the 1930s--from yiddishists to socialists, zionists to the orthodox.
Mieczyslaw, like nearly all of Centropa's Polish interviewees, fled into the Soviet Union when war came. Mieczyslaw survived the war in the Ural mountains, joined the Society of Polish Patriots, and returned home to Poland to find his entire family had been murdered (save for his two sisters who had already emigrated to Palestine).
In Mieczyslaw's biography, which you can access from the link on this page, he tells us what life was like for Jews in post-war Poland. He married a non-Jewish woman, Izabella, and their son, Eligiusz, graduated university in Warsaw and now teaches physics at Yale in the United States.
In the 1920s, Poland was an independent state known as “The Second Polish Republic” or the “Second Commonwealth of Poland” (1918-1939).
Mieczyslaw was in the Polish Armed Forces when, on 1 September 1939, German troops invaded Poland signaling the start of the Second World War.
After the war, Mieczyslaw eventually returned to Warsaw where he took on a position as a construction engineer. Warsaw had been heavily bombed – 80% of the historic town center was reduced to rubble. An intensive reconstruction campaign was initiated to restore the town center, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.