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03 · 10 · 2019

50th Anniversary of the Settlement of the Polish Jews in Denmark

In 1968, the communist government in Poland launched a campaign, which, among its aims, used the Polish Jews as scapegoats in connection with massive student protests. The protests were against state censorship and repression of critical students, the leaders of these protests were branded as Zionists and anti-Polish. This led to anti-Semitic propaganda which triggered resentment toward the Jewish population in Poland, and ended up with an emigration wave of about 14,000 people who were forced to leave homes being deprived of Polish citizenship. Approximately 3,000 of them settled in Denmark in the years 1969-1973.

 

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Polish Jews in Denmark, the Danish Cultural Institute in Poland will launch a series of events that will represent the Polish emigration wave to Denmark, and shed light on the contribution to Danish culture by its prominent representatives.

 

A collection of stories about the Polish immigrants’ personal stories will be published, to convey what it was like to be expelled from Poland, and what it means and meant to be an immigrant; to settle, live and work in Denmark. This book will be donated to 28 of the largest Polish libraries as well as to Polish-Jewish organizations and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. In Denmark, it will be donated to the biggest libraries and disseminated via The Jewish Museum in Copenhagen the Polish associations there.

 

In Gdánsk two screenings of documentaries will take place on the 4th and 5th of October, accompanied by discussions in the Old Town Hall of the Baltic Sea Culture Center:

SKIBET/HATIKVAH (1969): By Marian Marzynski. The title the ship/hatikvah, reflects that the first Danish word Marzynski learned was the word for ship, paired with the Hebrew word for hope. Filmed on the ship St. Lawrence where several hundred Polish immigrants were temporarily accommodated in Copenhagen harbor, it reflects the life and conditions for the Jewish immigrants.

KREDENS (2007): by Jacob Dammas. A 150 kg. heavy ”credenza”, a type of cupboard, disappeared in the late 1960´s. 40 years later filmmaker Jacob Dammas sets out to find the lost piece of furniture, this wild goose chase turns into a tragicomical yet poetic new perspective on emigration.

 

Drengen fra Dengang (2004) by the Danish writer Janina Katz with Polish-Jewish origin, will be published in a Polish translation. Drengen fra Dengang portrays the emotional life of immigrant children and serves as a testimony to the fact that, the struggles of the Jewish people did not end with World War II.

 

A collection of poems and photographs by Piotr Topperzer will be published in 2020, and leading up to this, two exhibitions will open in Gdánsk:

I am in Denmark. Immigrants in the lens of Piotr Topperzer: Baltic Sea Culture Center in Gdansk, 4. – 31. October 2019

Danish design. Photographs of Piotr Topperzer’s design icons: Academy of Fine Arts, Gdansk, 5. – 31. October 2019

 

The last event in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Polish Jews in Denmark, will be a stage reading of Ludvig Holberg’s Erasmus Montanus.

Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) often referred to as the “the Father of Danish Theater”, and phrases from his satirical works including Erasmus Montanus, Jeppe på Bjerget etc. are considered to be archetypes in Danish language.

This is the first time the comedy Erasmus Montanus will be presented in Polish for a Polish audience. It tells the story of the young Rasmus Berg who travels to Copenhagen to study, and upon returning to his home in the countryside he acts like arrogant know-it-all towards everyone he used to know.

The reading will be instructed by Włodzimierz Herman, and takes place at the Royal Theater in Łazienki Gardens in Warsaw on the 26th of November.