Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film
Glenn Kurtz here writes about his shock when he came across three minutes of old film shot by his grandfather, an immigrant making a trip back to the town of his birth. What gave the screen images historical value and tragic poignancy is that the grandfather’s birthplace was Nasielsk, Poland, a predominantly Jewish community, and he traveled there in 1938. Most of the people who appear in his brief footage would fall victim to the Holocaust. He truly documented a world that would soon be lost.
The author was motivated to learn all he could about that world, in particular to find out what happened to the people. He traveled to Europe and Israel, and ultimately met some actual survivors of Nasielsk. This book documents his journey of discovery and his efforts to reconstruct the history of one town in the grip of Nazi terror. Those who died emerge as flesh and blood human beings. The writing is beautifully evocative. The book is illustrated by still images from the film. Reading it is a moving, wrenching experience. The reader is uplifted by accounts of the lives of the few men and women who did survive.