It already seemed that the character of Szmul Zygielbojm would finally return to our collective memory when the director of the film about him decided to criticize the authorities.

On his path, about the desperate attempts made again and again, in 2000, the Polish director Djamila Ankevich (1961-2016) made a powerful film “The Death of Zigelbogma”, which follows Rufin, found by the director in South Africa, in the footsteps of his sister. He talks with Lydia Syokozova, Jan Karski, Marek Edelman, and old Bond members in the US, and visits his brother’s urn burial place in New York. The awakened longing for Warsaw and Poland and the friendliness of the people he meets means that at the end of his life Reuven accepts the invitation of the Polish government and settles in Warsaw, where he constantly meets with young people, talking about Artur Szmul Zygielbojm and his mission. He states and constantly emphasizes that he and Arthur, unlike many friends, including their brothers and sisters, always said “I am not a Jew from Poland, I am a Polish Jew”.

Alexander Roinsky d. Janusz Korczak and Mordechaj Anielewicz – and only Szmul Artur Zygielbojm, although he’s been a resident of the ghetto for only a few weeks. Rowinsky also lamented – and effectively, that he took steps not to complain – that only Zygielbojm was not described, appreciated, or memorialized among them all. In the end, the journalist led to the fact that some squares – which are difficult to find – were named after him. It happened at the end of the eighties, when it was possible to speak out loud about Zygielbojm and his mission in the government-in-exile without fear of the “London Contacts”. In 1997, a memorial stone was added – a monument in a completely uncovered place. This is basically.

With my head turned away

The premiere of Artur Szmul Zygielbojm’s feature film in November 2021 for those interested – and there are many of us – promised to be very interesting, although I was concerned about the title, the same as the documentary from twenty years ago. But let there.

Let me say right away that I loved this new movie and have already seen its mission in the world, an educational role to play with the eyes of my imagination. I’m not a film critic and wouldn’t go into analyzing whether there’s too much dialogue and too little action, or vice versa, whether it’s a bit dynamic or static. It is based on a good and intriguing story about a journalistic investigation by a young British reporter who discovers step by step the identity of the mysterious suicide at first sight on May 12, 1943. Thanks to this, he learns about Zygielbojm’s life in London and the motives behind his actions – and then discovers the truth of the extermination of Jewish life in the “unintentional” part. English” from Europe.

Everything looked good and it awakened my hope that the beautiful character of Artur Szmul Zygielbojm will return to the collective memory with this film and take its rightful place in it. However, it is not intended for him.

The director, Ryszar Brylsky, decided – on the day of the official premiere at the National Theater – to “shine” with his premiere speech directed against the government, because who would do it. He may not shine so much in front of the audience, but in front of his acting and directing surroundings, whose acting may have huddled in the audience and hysterically praised his explanations, which he read off the page, so that the speaker—what he asserted—does nothing wrong. This is what political correctness requires of a “true artist” today, nothing appears in the flock, in the rush of sheep, sometimes perhaps without thought, sometimes out of fear of not stepping out of line, or out of other sentiments. But where are these feelings when authors apply for subsidies, grants, or other funds to realize their work? Making a movie and putting the knife in his back? Like this “baby infanticide”?

Sorry about the movie, and more sorry for another missed opportunity for Zygielbojm’s comeback. Especially now, when you hear a call for help from Ukraine, when the world is once again turning away from the war that was waged before his eyes, when he does not call the crime of genocide by name, because it has more important aims. Zygielbojm cry still sounds.

– Barbara Suchek Kowalska

TYGODNIK TVP, ul. Woronicza 17, 00-999 Warsaw. Editors and authors

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