Film about massacre of Jews touches nerve in Poland

Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:38am EST
 
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By Dagmara Leszkowicz and Piotr Pilat

WARSAW (Reuters) - A film about a Polish village whose residents help massacre their Jewish neighbors in World War Two has forced Poles to confront one of the most troubling episodes of their past.

Most historians take the view that during the war the vast majority of Christian Poles were victims of the Nazi aggression that killed millions of Jews. There are many documented cases of Poles risking their lives to save Jews from Nazi death camps.

"Poklosie", or Aftermath, touches on a subject that many Poles prefer not to discuss - cases where Poles were complicit with the Nazis in rounding up, and in some cases, killing Jews.

Jewish groups have joined Poland's artistic community and many younger, liberal Poles in applauding the film for lifting the lid on a taboo. Others say it is blackening Poland's name by portraying its people unfairly as Nazi collaborators.

"It's our moral duty to make this film. It's a moral challenge to struggle with the topic," Dariusz Jablonski, the producer of the film, told Reuters in an interview.

"This is one of our last historical taboos and I have a feeling that it's a topic we've been avoiding. That's not how it should be.

"Even if this terrible crime concerns only 1 percent of the Polish nation, it doesn't matter, because we want to know about that."

Before World War Two, Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community of some 3.2 million. Most of them were killed by the Nazi occupiers. The Nazis built death camps including Auschwitz and Treblinka on Polish soil.   Continued...

 
Zbigniew Gustowski, assistant cameraman, Pawel Edelman, director of photography and Wladyslaw Paikowski, film director on set of the movie "Poklosie" (Aftermath) near Warsaw July 28, 2011. REUTERS/Apple Film Production/Marcin Makowski