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Bogdan Białek

Interlocutor name:
Bogdan
Interlocutor surname:
Białek
Researcher:
Krzysztof Banach
Operator:
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
116
Recording date:
4th August 2014
Recording location:
Kielce
Recording duration:
03:09:27
Format:
Audio
Recording language:
Polski
Recording copyright:
Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN
Project:
Poles Active in the Protection of Jewish Heritage

Topics

ghettos , Polish-Jewish relations, Commemoration, Everyday life.

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Bogdan Białek was born in 1955 in Białystok. His father was a journalist, later an administrative employee, while his mother was a housewife. The family had many children and found it difficult to make ends meet. Bogdan Białek spent his childhood in a poor district of Piaski, where until the 1960s Jews who survived the Holocaust had lived. Also, another place of residence of the family - ul. Żabia in Białystok, was linked to the history of Jews in the city, as one of the streets of the former ghetto.

Bogdan Białek worked as a journalist as early as his high school years, for “Gazeta Białostocka”. In 1974, he began studying psychology in Kraków, and after graduating, Bogdan Białek moved to Kielce. Until the end of 1980s, he worked as a psychologist, simultaneously becoming involved in opposition work. In 1989, he was a spokesperson for the Citizens' Committee of “Solidarność” for the Świętokrzyskie Region. Since September 1989, he has worked as a journalist for “Gazeta Wyborcza”, and within its framework in 1990 he created in Kielce “Gazeta Lokalna”, the first regional addition to the newspaper. In 1997, he set up a psychological journal “Charaktery” and became it editor.

Since the middle of the 1990s, he has been involved in social work to commemorate the Kielce Pogrom and in work relating to Polish and Jewish relations and the memory of the Holocaust. In 2000, he was the person behind the idea to host marches on the anniversary of the Kielce Pogrom, in an effort to promote reconciliation. In 2005, he established the Jan Karski Society, within the framework of which he conducts various social, educational and cultural activities.

He is the co-chairman of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, a member of the board of Internet-based “Jeshiva Pardes” Judaism Academy, the Chairman of the Council of the Rumi Foundation of Poland, honorary member of the Club of Christians and Jews , a“Przymierze” in Kraków, and a member of the Honorary Committee of the Jan Karski International Institute of Dialogue and Tolerance.

Recording circumstances description

The meeting took place at the headquarters of the “Charaktery” publication house, in the office of Bogdan Białek.

Recording summary

  1. Childhood in the Piaski district in Białystok, remnants of war in Białystok, poverty of the Piaski district, 0:00:34
  2. Multiculturalism of the district, Jews in Piaski during the childhood years of the Interviewee, Jewish acquaintances from Piaski, poverty in the district, 0:04:09
  3. Mrs Zawistowska - victim of medical experiments, stories of the female neighbour about her stay in camps, remnants of the war, 0:07:28
  4. Discovery of Hebrew books in the attic, a woman hiding Jews and antisemitic comments of his father’s female acquaintance, 0:10:55
  5. Departures of Jews in the 1960s, Jewish friends of the father, synagogue and other community buildings during the departures, playing with his Jewish female friend Lucyna, drunkenness among Jews, the last Jew in Białystok, 0:14:48
  6. Communist beliefs of his father, his father's work in journalism, judgement issued by the underground, arrest by UB, his father’s expulsion from the party and his breakdown, repressions against the brothers, 0:21:42
  7. Return of the father to work in 1956, moving to ul. Żabia, 0:26:13
  8. The location of the flat at ul. Żabia within the area of the former ghetto, children playing in the area of mass graves, children being held by a member of the Citizens' Militia and a request for their release, negligence of the cemetery and construction of a green area on its edge, 0:27:18
  9. Grandparents’ house near the ghetto wall, grandparents’ story of the SS Men taking part in the liquidation of the ghetto, memory of the ghetto and Jews from Białystok, 0:31:54
  10. Aunt's story about unhygienic preparation of matza, a diaspora of Jews from Białystok, 0:36:19
  11. His father's employment at the Polish Association of the Blind, financial situation of the family and casual work of the mother and children, 0:38:16
  12. Employment at “Gazeta Białostocka”, 0:46:02
  13. His father’s reaction to March 1968, correspondence conducted by means of the publication “Radar”, admiration for Che Guevara, reading Kapuściński, “Fołks Sztyme” and wanting to become a Jew, 0:48:04
  14. Care of priest Pietkun, 0:52:12
  15. Studying in Kraków and contact with antisemitism, rejection of antisemitic themes in the speech of the future member of parliament, Jaskiernia, 0:55:44
  16. Community room of the Kraków branch of the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, a Hebrew language course, contacts with Jews in Kraków during university years, prayers for the Jewish people at Jasna Góra in Częstochowa, the last shamas in Kraków, social pathologies amongst the residents of Kazimierz, 0:57:35
  17. Moving to Kielce, psychological community in Kielce, scientific work, a telephone call from the Security Service (SB), surveillance of the scientific community, leaving for a hypnology conference in Israel and surveillance by antisemites, 01:03:08
  18. Being in the army, antisemitic views of the chief of staff, crossing Jews out of the roll of the dead, 01:14:12
  19. First commemoration of the Kielce Pogrom, political understanding of the aim of the event, 01:21:20
  20. Working at the university and at the Psychology of Health Institute, 01:24:02
  21. Fall of communism, working for “Gazeta Wyborcza”, meeting Karl Künzle, creation of a regional office of “Gazeta Wyborcza” in Kielce, 01:32:06
  22. The subject of the Kielce Pogrom in “Gazeta Wyborcza”, initiatives commemorating the event, attacks on the Interviewee, planting of a bomb at the office of “Gazeta Wyborcza”, harassment of the family, 01:38:18
  23. Friendship with Adam Michnik and establishing contacts in the USA, the 50th anniversary of the Kielce Pogrom, visit of Elie Wiesel, 01:44:19
  24. The scope of the commemoration events of the 50th anniversary of the Pogrom, looking for new ways of commemoration, understanding of the memory, the person of Jan Karski and reasons for choosing him as the patron of the Society, a personal need to act towards maintaining the memory of the Holocaust, 01:51:07
  25. Inspiration to act towards maintaining the memory of the Kielce Pogrom, rabbi Rudin, Lucjan Dobroszycki, 01:59:50
  26. Organisation of initiatives to commemorate the memory of the Kielce Jews, the March of Remembrance, reaction of the public to the topics pursued by the Jan Karski Society, 02:04:29
  27. Psychological and social aspects, stances and reactions connected to the issues of remembrance, commemorations, understanding of otherness, 02:09:00
  28. Settling of scores between Poles during the war, smells on the farm of a woman whom the Interviewee was helping, 02:16:02
  29. His father and his relationship to the Jewish people celebrating their holidays, 02:18:33
  30. March of 1968 and departures of Jews, 02:20:00
  31. Issue of Jewish property in Poland, 02:21:36
  32. Representatives of the church in Białystok and Jews, the Church and Judaism nowadays, 02:23:18
  33. Ethnic groups in pre-war Białystok, inhabitants arriving after the war, ancestors on the side of the father and mother, 02:25:53
  34. Contemporary Białystok, antisemitism and chauvinism in Białystok, remembering the history of Białystok and Kielce, 02:31:46
  35. Pejorative expressions relating to Jews, Jews in Polish pop-culture, 02:35:01
  36. Borrowings from Jewish culture and traditions in Białystok, 02:35:35
  37. Antisemitism, chauvinism, nationalism in Białystok, lack of reaction of the authorities to the escalation of violence, comparing it to the situation in Kielce, 02:38:56
  38. Pejorative expressions, residents of the Kazimierz district in Kraków, and their attitude to Jews, 02:42:10
  39. Jews and communism, the year of 1968, approx. 02:45:32
  40. Jewishness and politics, 02:47:41
  41. Memory of the Pogrom in contemporary Kielce, 02:50:56
  42. Attacks on the Interviewee and violence in Kielce at the beginning of the 1990s, 02:56:42
  43. Activities of the Jan Karski Society in Kielce, 02:59:26
  44. Interest in the Jewish subject in Kielce, 03:03:28
  45. Property and Jewish architecture in Kielce, 03:05:19
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