Last week, took place three meetings with Jehudit Kafri, the author of a book titled „Zosia From the Jezreel Valley to the Red Orchestra”, published at the end of last year by the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute. Media patrons of this publication include: „Newsweek. Historia”, „Mówią wieki”, Magazyn Literacki „Książki”, a historical portal „dzieje.pl” and a portal „ swieccyzydzi.pl”. The meeting on 26th May was organized by the Society for the Preservation of Historical Monuments (Branch in Kalisz) and Society for the Promotion of Art „Łyżka Mleka”. Apart from Jehudit Kafri, the meeting was also participated by the translator of the book, Leszek Kwiatkowski; and among the invited guests were: pupils from Kalisz and its vicinity, winners of the 3rd edition of Literary Contest under the banner of „One land”, whose patronage was assumed by the JHI. The meeting was chaired by Halina Marcinkowska from Kalisz branch of the Society for the Preservation of Historical Monuments, and it consisted of three main parts: a discussion about the book „Zosia. From the Jezreel Valley to the Red Orchestra”; a display of archival photographs of Zofia Poznańska, her family and friends; and official announcement of the winners of the 3rd Edition of Literary Contest under the banner of „One land”. During the meeting it was also possible to buy, at a special price, various publications by the JHI.
Below, we present the winners of the Contest:
In the category „upper-secondary school”
1st prize — Adrian Kolańczyk (Kalisz), for a poem „When the Germans were burying the Babinka channel.”
2nd prize — Mateusz Pisula (Kalisz), for a poem without a title *** (Miasto Kalisz)
3rd prize — Donata Kowalińska (Cienia Druga, Opatówek), for an interview „School in a factory” and Igor Żulicki (Ostrów Wielkopolski), for a poem without a title *** (a general friction of ruins).
In the category „junior high”
1st prize — Marcin Bartoś (Nowe Skalmierzyce), for short stories „Memories alive for eternity”
2nd prize — Bartosz Domański (Żerków), for a short story „Nosfero a flight towards the future”
3rd prize — Arkadiusz Grzęda (Nowe Skalmierzyce), for a poem „Who are Jews?”
2 honorable mentions were given joint to: Iga Magaj (Ostrów Wielkopolski), for a short story without a title (”Islan ran through a dark Land”) and Martyna Cozaś (Koźminek), for a poem „Mute witnesses” and a short story/journal „A diary page”.
About the book
Zosia. From the Jezreel Valley to the Red Orchestra is the fruit of meticulous and detailed reconstruction of facts associated with stages of life of Zofia Poznańska. Her childhood and youth in family town of Kalisz become a background for presentation of life of Jewish adolescents from the circles of scout organization Hashomer Hatzair in the 1920s, and philosophical disputes and ideological choices of the time. On the other hand, the period after emigration to Palestine in 1927 is a raw description of early kibbutzim, confrontation of dreams of Eretz Israel with cruel reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict and ideological quandaries, moving many Reform Jewish adolescents towards communism and the Soviet Union. The next stage of life — Zosia’s underground activity in France and Belgium — is a fresco depicting pre-war and wartime reality of these countries and group of people active there, whose previous choices led to the establishment of „the Red Orchestra”, an anti-Nazi espionage network controlled by Moscow. The reality of „the Red Orchestra” is depicted in a manner far from monumental. Jehudit Kafri leads us through a series of coincidence, mistakes, negligence and unavoidable necessities, until the tragic end — a deadly clash of cryptographer Zosia with the most terrible enemy, Nazi Germany.
The characters of the story are flesh and blood people. The book talks as much about love, lust, jealousy, friendship, longing and dejection, as ideals and fighting. Jehudit Kafri makes no attempt to hide affection and admiration for his character, his personal attitude towards her. Anyway, he has a good reason to do so — beautiful Zosia Poznańska was the author’s father’s first, platonic love, a girl he had never forgotten. Thanks to this human aspect, „Zosia” is a wonderful gallery of fates and characters, which played such an important role in significant and tragic episodes of the 20th-century history.