Jewish problem, PR, Freud, Edward Bernays, era of a big lie and human nature

I must confess that almost every day I start with reading American Magazine “The Atlantic“. Since I am not native English, American, Australian or Canadian speaker, I still improve my English by reading American or English magazines and books.

And today I came across an article by Jeffrey Goldberg – “Glenn Beck’s Jewish Problem“, in which the Author writes about a serious TV commentator who “has something of a Jewish problem”, and later on:

“This is a post about Beck’s recent naming of nine people – eight of them Jews – as enemies of America and humanity. He calls these people prime contributors to the – wait for it – “era of the big lie”.

Among those eight he enumerates “Edward Bernays, the founder of public realtions, and a nephew of Freud’s”.

I myself am not a big fun of PR, and may even agree that we live in an era of a big lie, but consideration of the more or less important political, social or economic matters through the prism of nationhood, in categories of the nations, does not make sense. We – as human beings – still do not learn from history, we are permanently incapble of drawing conclusions from mistakes made by our ancestors. But the truth is simple and trivial – the human nature in its deepest dimension, in its deepest core, is still the same for all individuals in all nations, taking of course into account all superficial differences and nuances being the results of our diverse cultural and religious background.

Blaming Jews for PR and contribution to creating “era of a big like” does make the same sense as blaming Jews for October Revolution in Russia, or Georgians for Joseph Stalin. It is a road to nowhere.

Let us also take into consideration that PR is used with great pleasure not only by Jews, but all other nations, I mean not also governments and politics. We may know, we may feel that PR is not always honest, but still see that our governments, our politics, our coprporations, our firms resort to it. I am not happy with that, but when I take the deeper insight into me, I realize that sometimes in my private, daily life I also resrot to my “small, private PR” in interpersonal relations, but in any case I do not blame Jews for it.

Of course, I do not want to say, that it is OK, but human beings are still fragile and weak. They will always fall and stand up, without the end.

And let’s try to answer following question: are there really any persons who do not use some “private PR” in thier daily lives? And whose the gulity?

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Colours of the autumn, Lura, Kapuscinski and melancholic journey

Gentle, melancholic music flowing from the car’s speakers, it is Lura, straight from Portugal and Cape Verde at the same time. It is thousands miles away, but I feel as if this music were rooted here, in all these landscapes, I am passing by. It harmonizes so perfectly with all melancholy hidden in all these hills, groves, forests, fields and villages.

About 10 years ago I read “Heban” by Ryszard Kapuscinski. He wrote about his journeys to Africa, and I remembered perfectly one of the stories from this book, when author met on the bus an African, young male, silent and shy person. They started speaking, and that guy told Kapuscinski story of his melancholy, maybe even light depression. And his descrpition was done in such common, universal language (in sense of the meaning), that we at once realize – in the same way we could describe our emotional states, our existential experience, in Europe, in United States, and probably everywhere in the world. It was the langauage of our common fate, of our common human experience. One of the most beautiful messages of that fragment is that in our deepest emotions, thoughts, psychic states and our fate we are the same, and there are always things, which unite and bind us.

The same thing I felt while driving the car, contemplating all these melancholic landscapes and listening Lura’s music.

My ideas about Russian literature

Today I came across an interesting article – “Why western authors are in love with Mother Russia” by Andrew Miller, and resolved to write a comment below it, including my private and modest ideas concerning Russian literature:

A few years ago I read about one of my favourite Russian writers, that “he was closest to the truth about human being”. This sentence concerned Fiodor Dostoyevsky. And it is impossible to disagree with this statement, when one reads “Idiot” or “Crime and punishment”. In every of these books one is able to find himself/herself, to identify with some characteres. When I read Dostoyevsky or Turgeneiv I read it with all my nerves, it is not just work of the mind, but work of my whole being (my soul, my mind and body).

That is why I agree with following Author’s statement:

“Writers born elsewhere tend to be captivated first by the grandeur and reckless honesty of the great Russian authors (…)”

Russian writers do possess not only “reckless honesty”, but also – sometimes even heroic – courage to tell truth about human being’s nature. It is a kind of civil courage, which so often Western writers lack, with exception of Joseph Conrad, C.S. Lewis, or Jack London. They do not hide truth behind the curtian of courtesy, social conventions or political corectness. They show it with all its pain, suffering, ugliness, so that we get fed up with our reality, and do not see another possibility, apart from changing our inner, spiritual world.

With regard to another Author’s statement:

“Nick, my narrator, is sucked into Moscow during its greedy, oil-fuelled boom. He only finds out what sort of man he can be, perhaps has always been, when he lives in Russia.”

I think that in Russia we may feel in some sense “naked”, it is still a state, where one can feel as “pure”, “naked”, “raw”, “defenseless”, as it is only possible, where state, law, authority, social conventions do not prevent him/her from all evil human instincts existing in all human beings. In Russia there is a bare human being standing opposite omnipotent authority, simple people opposite corrupt officials or oligarchs. In such milieu all human stances, all human behaviours are sharper, more visible, distinguishable. If you are courageous, you are much more courageous than in Western countries. What is the price of courage in Great Britian, or Germany and what is the price of courage in Russia? You can answer this question, when you take into consideration, fate of such persons as Anna Politkovskaya, Natasha Estemirova, Nastia Baburova, Litvinenko, Chodorkovsky.

In Russia you have much better and more occasions to be decent or wicked, and when you decide to be decent you have much more to lose, than when you decide to be decent in France.

In other words, I think that in Russia, a person have much more possibilities to be more human, to be more real and true, than in other parts of Europe. And no wonder, that in such reality, great literature appears…

Irena Sendler – The Righteous Among the Nations

Yesterday Irena Sendler died in Warsaw. She was a real hero, exceptional person, who appears rarely in all societies or nations. During the World War II she together with her friends and many other unknown people saved about 2.500 Jewish children from Warsaw ghetto.

Irena Sendler worked at that time as a social worker in a municipal office in Warsaw and also as a nurse. Many times as a nurse she visited Warsaw ghetto and “smuggled” little Jewish children hidden in packs, cartons, bags to the Aryan side of the city. Later on those children were taken and looked after by Polish families and nuns in convents. Members of Polish Resistance forged documents for those small survivers to hide their Jewish descent; according to those false documents they were Polish children.

All those people who were involved in helping Jews during the World War II in Poland were exposed to capital punishment. It was not necessary to save or hide Jews to be killed by German Nazis, it was enough to give food, slice of bread, a mug of water, clothing for fugitive from ghetto or from train going to the extermination camp, or for hiding Jews.

In October 1942 Irena Sendler was apprehended by Gestapo and sentenced to death, but her friends bribed a German warder, and even though she was in the list of executed people, she stayed alive.

For many years she was an unknown person, especially in communist Poland. As she was a member of anticommunist Polish Resistance, it was forbidden to talk about such persons in communist country, even if they were real heros.

Only in 1965 Irena Sendler was given the honourable title – the Righteous Among the Nations – title granted by Yad Vashem for people who helped and saved Jews during the horrific period of the war. Israel Institute as a first appreciated greatness, bravery and heroism of that fragile, modest and humble woman.

Irena Sendler was compared to Oskar Schindler, but it was not right. Schindler was a German entrepreneur and as a German he was not exposed to death penalty for his activities on behalf of the Jews, he did not risk his life helping Jews as Irena Sendler did.

She is an excellent example of a quiet, peacful hero, who does not search for a fame and publicity. She has been always smiled, modest, humble and good to all people, who were in need, who were poor and weak.

Irena Sendler was born and raised in Polish intelligentsia family. Her parents taught her that people deserve help regardless of their descent, nationality, material or social status, sex, race, religion. Her father was a doctor in a small town near Warsaw – in Otwock – were he treated mainly the Jewish poor and died when he caught typhus from his patients. It was her first lesson of the sacrifice on behalf of the other and she grasped that lesson very well.

Multicultural town – part 1

Situated on the borderland of a few cultures and religions Bialystok still bears the traces of its past multicultural identity.

Town rights (statutes) Bialystok gained in 1749; its rapid growth as an improtant trade and cultural centre it owed to Jan Klemens Branicki – representative of Polish nobility, who became the owner of the town in the first half of the 18th century. In that period Bialystok and surrounding region was inhabited by Poles, Rutheninans, Jews and Tatars; Catholic, Greek Catholic, Orthodox, Judaism and Muslim belivers. All these ethnic and religious groups lived in relative peace and tolerance. Later on, in the first half of the 19th century newcomers from German states also appeared here.

Below there are presented a few pictures depicting old sacred bulidings related to a few religious and national groups inhabiting this town.

It is the oldest Orthodox chuch in Bialystok, founded by Jan Klemens Branicki in 1758, originally as a Greek Catholic church.

Saint Roch’s church – one of the most modern Catholic churches in the interwar period in Europe, designed by outstanding Polish architect – Oskar Sosnowski.

To be continued…

Remnants of Bialystok ghetto – part 2

Together with my friends I resolved to immortalize places, buildings, gardens, streets which were witnesses of the most tragic and cruel events in history of our native town. We are Polish inhabitants of Bialystok – town of many cultures, religions, languages in the north – eastern Poland. This is the place where the East meets the West; towers of Catholic and Orthodox churches soar above the town, Protestant churches, muslim mosque enrich Bialystok’s face.

Poles, Belarussians, Tatars, Russians, descendants of Germans are still hosts of our town, but Jews who before the II World War made up 50% of Bialystok’s population are absent. Majority of Jewish inhabitants was exterminated by German Nazis in 1941 – 1944. Only a few hundreds of Jews were able to save their lives. Presently there are no open and functioning synagogues or houses of prayer, no lively Jewish community in Bialystok.

This post is dedicated to places which during the II World War found itself in the borders of the ghetto area, where German Nazis gathered about 50.000 Jews.

Evening in Czysta street. View from Czysta street, on the left – house in ghetto were Samuel Pisar lived.

House in the courtyard in Czysta street no 5

Old buildings in Czestochowska street, near Czysta and Warynskiego street.

Warynskiego street, near Cytron Synagogue, in front of – yellow and brown building was a school for Jewish girls before the Second World War

Remnants of Bialystok ghetto – part 1

I have always been amazed by the contrasts included in beautiful places. How is it possible that place that witnessed most cruel events in the world history may at the same time include so much beauty? I mean contrast between internal appearance of a place and history it contains.

The most beautiful gardens in my native town are on the areas of the former ghetto. Bialystok’s history has not witnessed more cruel period than time of the II World War, when about 50.000 Jews were gatherd in interior part of the town, where German Nazis organizied ghetto. Those beuatiful gardens, wooden small houses, old bulidings, old trees, lush green of the gardens, many colurs of flowers, picturesque paved streets, red brick factories were witnesses of unimaginable cruelties in human kind’s history – murders of hundreds of innocent children, women, men; later on uprising in Bialystok ghetto and deaths of further hundreds of persons.

Now spring has just come nad those places start again to be the most beautiful places in the town. They are still grey, but in a short time they will explode with lush green and many other bright colurs of the Bialystok gardens.

Is it possible to understand such an indifference of nature to human kind suffering?

On the left – part of the synagogue in Warynskiego street, on the right – old building, both from the begining of the XX century, on the area of former ghetto.

Small wooden house in Czysta 5 street, where Samuel Pisar – surviver of Bialystok ghetto, later on adviser of John Fitzgerald Kennedy – lived in inferno of Bialystok ghetto.

Wooden remnant of the ghetto gate between stones in Czysta street.

View of the Czysta street from the place were ghetto gate stood.

Houses in Czysta street, on the left – Czysta 5 – wooden house where Samuel Pisar lived.