In the 1950's, the activities of [[urle|the Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ)|http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/szczecin/7,organizacje-i-stowarzyszenia/26404,towarzystwo-spoleczno-kulturalne-zydow-oddzial-w-szczecinie/]] were directed towards young people. The generation that had been born during the war or shortly afterwards, was distinctly different from the previous one; especially because it had not been affected by the real trauma of the Holocaust. This "generational conflict" was particularly evident when the youth wing of TSKŻ turned out to have little appeal among young people. During this time, the first rock music group in Szczecin emerged from the Society, and it was modelled after The Beatles.
It all began with Radio Luxembourg, which was broadcasting completely new music. Franek Gecht, one of the band members, recalls the musical climate of the time: "We started out with jazz and quickly moved into rock'n'roll. Our favourites were Elvis, Paul Anka, Tony Steel, Connie Francis and Brenda Lee ... An instrumental group, The Shadows, came along and then there was The Beatles and hundreds of others. We imitated their look, their clothes and their hairstyles”[1.1].
The group was formed soon after Mietek Klajman met Adam Hauptman and Marian Lichtman (who would later become a member of Trubadurzy) at a summer camp in 1961. They persuaded him that rock and roll was relatively easy to play. After returning from the camp, Klajman purchased his first guitar. Further enthusiasts soon appeared among the Jewish youth. Klajman was joined by Mietek Lisak, gifted with perfect pitch, who started on the accordion and switched to guitar in 1962. Next was Sioma Zakalik who, as a graduate of the National Music School, stood out in that he was able to read sheet music. He soon put down his violin and took up the drums. When Józek Laufgas joined the group, he became the lead singer. On piano there was Kuba Ciring, who grew up surrounded by music (his mother was Irena Dołgow-Ciring, a locally well-known violinist, composer and music school teacher), and there was also Olek Kuperberg, who played bass guitar for the group on an instrument he had made himself[1.2].
Although the group's name "Następcy Tronów" (Eng. "The Heirs to the Throne") might seem to have biblical associations, it in fact has nothing to do with religion at all. It is a reference to an Italian film that was popular in Poland in the 1960s.
At first the band's repertoire consisted solely of the biggest Western hits. In general that was a period when Western pop culture was making massive inroads in Poland, a fact which is reflected in the popularity of bands such as Czerwono-Czarni and Niebiesko-Czarni, not to mention the appearance of Czesław Niemen on the music scene. "Następcy Tronów" were not an exceptional case among Jewish youth. There were similar groups performing in Łódź ("Śliwki") and in Wrocław ("Nastolatki"), and all of them had the chance to meet during summer camps organised by TSKŻ[1.1.1].
In 1962 the band was given permission to organise rehearsals at the I.L. Perec school in ul. Roosevelta (presently al. Wyzwolenia) under the auspices of the Szczecin branch of TSKŻ. Their Society-appointed supervisor was Marek Laner.
As of 1963 the band started to create their own repertoire, and the same tendency began to emerge among other Polish rock bands as well. This change was welcomed by the authorities, who had been unable to tolerate their dangerously liberal Western role models. Thus, Polish rock and roll become a sanitised version of Western music.
The lyrics of the band's songs were penned by Krystyna Biercewicz and Luba Zylber, Polish studies students from Poznań as well as Roza Pojman, who would later marry Mietek Klajman. "Następcy Tronów" began to collaborate with children's choirs and soloists as well as a few indispensable technicians – Allen Żelechowski and, probably the first man with no Jewish ancestry to work with the group, Bogdan Puszkarczyk. They gained popularity not only within the Jewish circles of Szczecin; with time they also began to tour other Polish cities. The group also took part in events of an unambiguously propagandist nature, which was typical of Polish music up until the emergence of an independent rock music scene in the mid-1980s[1.3].
It should be remembered, however, that the group was operating under the auspices of TSKŻ, which also had its own demands. One embittered TSKŻ member wrote about them: "They have gone in for their own style of melody, which has little in common with Jewish song. At the forefront is a music group that calls itself 'Następcy Tronów'. Granted – this band does not play badly – but exclusively ... rock and roll and on top of that they bawl everything out. That of course draws people from all over Niebuszewo to ul. Słowackiego ... A few days ago during a rock and roll rehearsal held by 'Następcy Tronów' it happened that windows were broken in our club ... It comes as no surprise, then, that the director of our TSKŻ club does not want to issue these angry 'princelings' musical instruments. It comes as no surprise that the secretary of the Szczecin branch of TSKŻ is outraged at the behaviour of these young people." With time, however, compromises were made. With Marek Laner's persuasion, apart from songs sung in English they also began to sing in Jewish languages[1.4]. "Kinder Yorn” became their most popular Jewish song[1.5].
The members came into contact with anti-Semitism during concerts, although they recall such incidents happening extremely rarely. There was, however, one particular concert in June 1967, when shouts of "Jews to Palestine" could be heard from the audience; that was also the beginning of the end for the band. 1968 turned out to be a decisive year for "Następcy Tronów": only Kuperberg and Szuman remained in the country, while Klajman and Zakalik emigrated to the United States, Lisak to Göteberg, and Gecht to Israel.
However, there is an epilogue to the band's story. In 2003 during the gathering, "Mini-reunion '68", where people who had emigrated from Szczecin in 1968 came together, "Następcy Tronów" played one more time as part of a friendly jam session[1.1.3].
Probably the only song in the band's catalogue that lives on in recorded form is "Płacz Wietnamskich Dzieci" ("Vietnamese Children Crying"), which can be heard on the web page sedina.pl
- [1.1] Krasucki E., Następcy Tronów - żydowski big-beat ze Szczecina (1), http://sedina.pl/wordpress/index.php/2006/08/20/nastpcy-tronw-ydowski-big-beat-ze-szczecina-1/ [Accessed 30 September 2012].
- [1.2] Krasucki E., Następcy Tronów - żydowski big-beat ze Szczecina (1), http://sedina.pl/wordpress/index.php/2006/08/20/nastpcy-tronw-ydowski-big-beat-ze-szczecina-1/ [Accessed 30 September 2012].
- [1.1.1] Krasucki E., Następcy Tronów - żydowski big-beat ze Szczecina (1), http://sedina.pl/wordpress/index.php/2006/08/20/nastpcy-tronw-ydowski-big-beat-ze-szczecina-1/ [Accessed 30 September 2012].
- [1.3] Krasucki E., Następcy Tronów - żydowski big-beat ze Szczecina (2), http://sedina.pl/wordpress/index.php/2006/08/27/nastpcy-tronw-ydowski-big-beat-ze-szczecina-2/ [Accessed 30 September 2012].
- [1.4] Mieczkowski J., Zarys dziejów szczecińskiego oddziału Towarzystwa Społeczno-Kulturalnego Źydów w latach 1950-1989, in: Żydzi szczecińscy. Tradycja i współczesność. Materiały z sesji naukowej, 27 czerwca 2003 r., eds. Kozłowski K., Mieczkowski J., Szczecin 2004, pp. 62-63.
- [1.5] Krasucki E., Następcy Tronów - żydowski big-beat ze Szczecina (2), http://sedina.pl/wordpress/index.php/2006/08/27/nastpcy-tronw-ydowski-big-beat-ze-szczecina-2/ [Accessed 30 September 2012].
- [1.1.3] Krasucki E., Następcy Tronów - żydowski big-beat ze Szczecina (2), http://sedina.pl/wordpress/index.php/2006/08/27/nastpcy-tronw-ydowski-big-beat-ze-szczecina-2/ [Accessed 30 September 2012].