Shtetl (2)

There are many powerful scenes in the film Shtetl 1 & 2.

One which stands-out for me is the interaction between Jack Rubin (Yankel from the goose yard) who returns to Bransk with Marian, and a villager (we don’t learn his name). (at 1.13) I don’t know where peasant stops and villager begins – the guy they were talking with seemed to me to be closer to the former;

They were discussing the old times, the rich Jews and so on – when the guy mentioned an episode where he sold Jack’s dad a deer he had shot in the woods;

Your dad offered me 10 Zlotys then he changed his mind and offered me eight. I took the eight.

This being an inference that Jack’s dad somehow short-changed the guy, used some Jew-magic and pulled-off a greater profit than he would otherwise.

In essence this was the guy saying that Jack’s dad had cheated him. Only the cheat wasn’t recent, it was somewhere before 1942. And we are left with this guy’s story besmirching Jack’s dad.

My dad, never. He would never cheat on a deal. If he offered you ten, he would have given you ten. This I cannot believe, he says in Polish, translated into English by Marian in the film’s dialogue.

My dad was honest, it’s impossible, he went on. This, I cannot hear.

You could see from Jack’s body-language, posture, how distressing it was for him to hear this story told by the villager. This was of course preceded by the guy describing the rich Jews who controlled the village, ran every business big or small; after Jack’s remonstration, the villager changed the story slightly, arguing that it might have had something to do with the scales, that Jack’s dad might have changed the offer after weighing the deer. This all 70 years ago played through a film recorded over 20 years ago. Jack is now, I imagine no longer alive; Nathan Kaplan from the first part died as the second was being released.

A tragic tale.

Tragedy heaped upon tragedy. Sadness and sorrow.

The accounts painful.

And, where does this leave us now?

The 12th of April is Yom Ha Shoah – Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel (27th January in the UK), five years ago this coincided with an annual/global internet hack festival organised by Anonymous against the state of Israel; see here.

The ongoing discussion, about Corbyn and the Labour party has left me in a spin. I perhaps don’t have an adequately sophisticated grasp on the shifting conceptions of policy and statement to know who is right any more. I saw an image of Corbyn being manhandled by police in the 80s and I read a certain thing; I talk with my brother and I learn another. You can hear Mark Regev’s opinions here (both what he says and what he doesn’t).

Those who are no longer alive are unable to defend themselves, like Jack’s dad, like those who did not survive The Holocaust, like the innocents killed in the wars of the Middle East.

It seems the more I learn, the less I understand of all of this.

I aspire to a slightly more sophisticated understanding of the world than the old man retreating behind the walls of his house in Bransk; I suspect I am not that far away.

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You can see my earlier blog here.

Please let me know what you think.

9 comments

  1. I have watched the 2 films of the Shtetl. It is our history, we cannot change what happened then, only how we deal with things today. I feel sad for the visitors and the residents in these films. Politics is not a daily obsession now, viewed from a narrowed world on the lower slopes of the slalom of life ,with the end on the horizon. I do today what I really want to do, within the parameters. Including reading and mulling over these blogs. Thankyou.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rod, Thank you for your message which I have just found today.. For some reason I stopped getting notifications so I am investigating! Plus the well known A and D associated with the experience of ageing descended. I have found your subsequent blogs and do hope your volunteering plans are going well. Looking forward to more of your thoughts and more comment!
    Best Wishes
    Freda

    Liked by 1 person

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