What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

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What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 27 May 2020 06:16

What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era? I actually had Jewish relatives and ancestors who lived in Sarny, Poland before World War II--almost all of whom were murdered in the Holocaust (three of them managed to get out in time right before Operation Barbarossa, plus a couple who managed to move elsewhere earlier, but the rest of them perished) and who I believe were primarily merchants and engaged in trade and commerce. That said, though, I was wondering what life was like for non-Jews in various cities and towns in interwar eastern Poland was. I specifically want to focus on eastern Poland due to its more rural, agrarian, and one can even say romantic character.

Thoughts?

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Steve » 27 May 2020 20:53

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umc-uq21d2Q An interesting look at pre war Wilno, I think the commentary is in Lithuanian.

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by gebhk » 29 May 2020 14:12

Hi Steve, a lovely record of worlds gone forever. The first, the one probably most relevant to this topic, is an almost painful reminder of Vilnius' recent history. The film is German (am I right in thiniking the BA stamped on the upper left corner may be for Bundesarchiv?) and the original German (?Yiddish?) commentary periodically breaks through. The over-recorded commentary is (I am almost certain) in Russian and the subtitles are Lithuanian!

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 01 Jun 2020 03:47

Steve wrote:
27 May 2020 20:53
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umc-uq21d2Q An interesting look at pre war Wilno, I think the commentary is in Lithuanian.
Is there any way to get an English translation of this? It looks interesting, but Yeah, I can't actually understand it. :(

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Steve » 02 Jun 2020 00:28

A few more you may like, I don't think these old films have much of an audience beyond the countries they were made in so English translations seem as rare as hens teeth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biBCosaZ_0w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llM5XEqtFmg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9FPilPcamc

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by wm » 07 Jun 2020 17:13

I don't think there was much difference if we subtract the masses of Orthodox Jews (the "Blacks" so "loved" in Israel) that defined the "Jewish Poland."

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 07 Jun 2020 19:13

wm wrote:
07 Jun 2020 17:13
I don't think there was much difference if we subtract the masses of Orthodox Jews (the "Blacks" so "loved" in Israel) that defined the "Jewish Poland."
Are you suggesting that Israelis have the same love for Ultra-Orthodox Jews that Americans have for blacks?

Anyway, you're saying that with the exception of super-religious Jews, urban Jews and urban non-Jews in interwar Poland lived rather similar lives, correct?

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by wm » 07 Jun 2020 20:18

Well, the American blacks live in the wealthiest and most desirable country on this planet, and they enjoy numerous affirmative actions unavailable to nobody else.
The other blacks are hated for privileges granted to them by people who hate them today.

Of course, there was no difference a Jewish worker and a Polish worker looked exactly the same. The only difference was their native language.
The house of Polish artisan looked the same as his Jewish neighbor's, he had a female servant or two (my family had two, take that you Tesla driving losers) they watched the same movies, drank the same vodkas. And they didn't care about what their priest/rabbi said at all.

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 08 Jun 2020 21:58

wm wrote:
07 Jun 2020 20:18
Well, the American blacks live in the wealthiest and most desirable country on this planet, and they enjoy numerous affirmative actions unavailable to nobody else.
The other blacks are hated for privileges granted to them by people who hate them today.
Yeah, in Israel there's a feeling that Ultra-Orthodox Jews are lazy, do-nothing, leechers, and/or parasitical--with them not working and not doing any military service, especially their men (their women do at least sometimes work, in addition to popping out lots and lots of babies!).
Of course, there was no difference a Jewish worker and a Polish worker looked exactly the same. The only difference was their native language.
The house of Polish artisan looked the same as his Jewish neighbor's, he had a female servant or two (my family had two, take that you Tesla driving losers) they watched the same movies, drank the same vodkas. And they didn't care about what their priest/rabbi said at all.
Interesting. Was there a lot of working-class solidarity between Jewish workers and Polish workers?

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by wm » 10 Aug 2020 20:19

Both Polish and Jewish socialists deeply cooperated, so I suppose there was. Although Jewish workers were (almost) as rare as hen's teeth, even Jewish businessmen avoided them because of the Sabbath.

So the Israeli socialists gave the Ultra-Orthodox certain rights, and now they are offended they're exploiting them fully. The socialists never understood human nature.

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 12 Aug 2020 21:30

wm wrote:
10 Aug 2020 20:19
Both Polish and Jewish socialists deeply cooperated, so I suppose there was. Although Jewish workers were (almost) as rare as hen's teeth, even Jewish businessmen avoided them because of the Sabbath.

So the Israeli socialists gave the Ultra-Orthodox certain rights, and now they are offended they're exploiting them fully. The socialists never understood human nature.
If Jews weren't workers, who were they? Surely a majority of Jews weren't businessmen and industrialists, were they?

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by wm » 12 Aug 2020 23:14

Of course they were, although most of them didn't sell coal mines, at best a few goose necks per day.
The problem was Poland had lots of traders that had nothing to sell, middlemen with nothing to mediate, shoemakers with shoes nobody wanted. A modern country didn't need them.

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 16 Aug 2020 02:24

Would Palestine have actually needed them, though?

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by gebhk » 16 Aug 2020 20:42

A dear friend of my family, now no longer with us, lived in Nowogrodek before the war (his father was a senior policeman in the town). Henryk recalled that in school, the kids were of more faiths than you could count and, of course, every faith had its own set of religious days. The school system made a positive out of necessity - the kids were paired up and it was the job of whichever of the pair was at school to tutor the other so that he or she could catch up. Henryk though that was fairly normal and believed it was educational on many levels. For one thing you had to get a decent grip of the subjects yourself to help another but the system also fostered a sense of duty and good neighbourliness.

As an aside, Henryk was paired up with a very pretty Jewish girl and there may have been some budding romance there - they were 13 or 14, but who knows. The war put a tragic end to anything that may have come of it.

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Re: What did non-Jewish city and town life in eastern Poland look like in the interwar era?

Post by Futurist » 26 Aug 2020 23:04

By Henryk, do you mean the Henryk who posts on this forum? If so, is he over 90 years old right now? Or is Henryk the name of your family's friend?

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