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And There Was Love in the Ghetto

Witold Bereś

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And There Was Love in the Ghetto

based on a book by Marek Edelman and Paula Sawicka

on the anniversary of the last transport of the Warsaw Ghetto residents executed as part of the Great Liquidation Action of 1942.

Sep 21, 2009, 20:00 hours, Warsaw, a square by the Dzielna Street (parallel to Al. Jana Pawła II and Smocza streets) – fragments of Marek Edelman memoir read by Mariusz Benoit and Tomasz Schimscheiner; second show on Apr 19, 2010, read by Jerzy Radziwiłowicz and Tomasz Schimscheiner.

And there Was Love in the Ghetto is a small state play of selected parts of memoirs of Marek Edelman, member of the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB), one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, who after the war remained in Poland as surgeon and member of the anticommunist opposition.

It is a trip back in time touchning upon the ghosts of the past, names of people and streets, and stories—tragic and beautiful, always true. It is a sort of a Polish-Jewish Forefathers Eve, where thanks to Edelman memories, speak those who have long been gone. They come to live on the evening of the performance through their own stories, which we would like to tell. Contrary to the circumstances in which the stories are set, they are stories of love.

Along with the words from Edelman book, there are pictures in the show—archive photographs projected upon the surrounding walls; Jewish music as well as Jewish themes related to souls’ wandering, looking into the past and bidding farewell to the dead. All that created a moving mood which is associated with burial ceremonies.

Looking into the past: people, places and events—most often tragic but sometimes beautiful and moving. For the Edelman’s story is not only about cruelty, humiliation, fear, hatred and struggle but also about love in the ghetto. It is a story about young people who fall in love for the first time. About mature women and men, who don’t want to be alone. About the importance of being able to hug someone. About a daughter who leaves her boyfriend for she did not want to let her mother go alone to the Treblinka death camp. And about mother who led her children out of the ghetto but returned for she did not want to leave her lover behind. It is a story about Hendusia, a nurse, who could have escaped to the Aryan side, but did not for she could not leave the children entrusted to her care.

The Klezmer Quartet delivered music to the open-airs show and Magda Brudzińska was a member of the cast.