Oral history
History witnesses

Aleksander Ratz

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Józef Markiewicz
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
16th August 2017
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
March’68 Participants and Witnesses

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Aleksander Ratz was born in 1946 in Krakow as the son of Emilia (née Endler) and Marcin (Martin) Ratz. His mother came from Warsaw and his father came from Vienna. After the outbreak of World War II, Aleksander Ratz's parents fled to the east. They spent the war in the Soviet Union, where they completed their electromechanical studies.

After the war they settled in Krakow. In 1949 they moved to Warsaw and lived at Olimpijska Street in Mokotów. His father worked in the heat and power plant in Żerań, and his mother in the Planning Commission.

Alexander Ratz was active in scouting, he was a student of the Reytan Secondary School. He took up studies at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Technology of the University of Warsaw.

As a result of the events of March 1968, his parents were made redundant and decided to leave Poland. Aleksander Ratz, together with his younger sister and father, left for Vienna. After two weeks, Aleksander Ratz moved to Sweden, where he did not have to start his studies from the beginning - in 1968 he was in his fifth year of studies at the Warsaw University of Technology. He received his Master's degree in engineering in 1971.

In 1970 his fiancée, Tola, joined him in Sweden.

His mother left Poland in 1972, earlier her applications for permission to leave were repeatedly rejected. Tola and Aleksander Ratz live in Stockholm and have three sons and seven grandchildren.

Recording circumstances description

The interview was conducted in the interviewee's apartment in Stockholm in the presence of his wife Tola, who also joined the conversation.

Recording summary

  1. Preliminary information about the parents of the interviewee; the post-war place of residence of the Ratz family in Warsaw; 00:00:30
  2. Grandparents of the interviewee - background, work, religion; 00:04:00
  3. Lack of Jewish traditions at the interviewee’s home; no connection between the interviewee and the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (Polish: Towarzystwo Społeczno-Kulturalne Żydów w Polsce, TSKŻ); 00:06:15
  4. The interviewee’s awareness of his Jewish origin; inability to participate in religion classes; 00:08:15
  5. Parents' acquaintances - people with similar education, belonging to left-wing organizations, of Jewish origin; 00:10:25
  6. Parents' stories about the outbreak of war, their escape to the Soviet Union and return to Warsaw; 00:12:35
  7. The topic of emigration from Poland before the events of March 1968; 00:17:45
  8. High material status of the Ratz family, 00:19:40
  9. The interviewee’s relations with his parents; 00:21:30
  10. The circumstances in which Aleksander Ratz met his future wife, Tola, on a scouting winter camp; 00:23:00
  11. Membership in the scouting organization; leadership skills of the interviewee; 00:26:54
  12. The Reytan Secondary School; apolitical atmosphere; 00:29:40
  13. Apolitical atmosphere at the Faculty of Mechanical and Technological Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology, except for one incident - an attempt to persuade the interviewee to join the party, 00:34:20
  14. Military camp in Toruń; 00:36:30
  15. Information about the Six-Day War and the atmosphere in 1967, 00:38:40
  16. Contact between the interviewee's family and his father's sister living in Israel; awareness of censorship; 00:41:25
  17. March 1968 - participation in the rally and subsequent lack of commitment; 00:45:25
  18. Studies of the interviewee's wife at the Academy of Fine Arts; 00:48:25
  19. The tense atmosphere after Gomułka's speech; 00:49:50
  20. Friends in prison, 00:54:30
  21. Circumstances of the decision to leave Poland; 01:01:35
  22. The problem of the interviewee's mother with obtaining permission to leave Poland; 01:04:54
  23. Arrival of the interviewee, his sister and father in Vienna; lack of possibility to continue studies at the Vienna University of Technology; 01:08:10
  24. The interviewee’s departure to Sweden to continue his studies, obtaining the title of engineer in 1971; 01:09:20
  25. The breakdown of the interviewee's mother; the emigration of the interviewee's future wife in 1970; the emigration of the interviewee’s mother in 1972; 01:10:10
  26. Change in the interviewee's family situation; initial difficulties of the interviewee's younger sister in adaptation, 01:14:40
  27. Commemorating the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; contemporary anti-Semitism in Poland; 01:17:45
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