Every few years since 2001 I have visited Poland and Ukraine. The first time, I went with my mother, a survivor, to find out how life was for her before the war, and to learn more about her wartime experiences.
For over twenty-five years and even more so since that 2001 journey, I passionately devoted and immersed myself to studying Jewish life in interwar Europe. Overnight, not only did this 1000-year-old community vanish, but so did its complex communal infrastructure as well as its language, Yiddish. What piqued my interest and curiosity was finding out exactly what it was that disappeared. In talking to politicians, survivors, scholars, Jewish communal leaders from Eastern Europe, and making trips there, I was able to uncover the richness and the tragedy of interwar Jewish life in Europe. These upcoming blogs will not only share my experiences and research, in particular to my latest trip this past December 2016, but I will also bring my experiences to life so that we can all gain a greater understand of not only this period, but also ourselves.
I look forward to hearing your comments during these coming weeks as I post this journal.
There are many ways to go back to Torczyn and Lutsk.
Thoughts, dreams… that’s why it won’t be your last journey.
A part of you is already there forever.
– Séverine Werba*, Paris, France. 18 November 2016
Severine Werba is a French novelist who wrote the book Appartenir (to Belong)about her Grandfather. Severine’s Grandfather Boris was born in Torczyn in 1906. He left in 1923 to study in western Europe and never returned home. He settled in Paris where Severine was born and raised.
Grandfather Boris never was able to see or talk about his family again. His family perished in the Shoah. It was unbearable for him. He had nightmares every night. He died in 1990.
Severine contacted me in 2012 prior to her first journey to Torczyn. We have remained in contact ever since.