On the 16th of January 1942, in the “Femina” theater, the premiere of the play “Love Looks for an Apartment” took place. On the 73rd anniversary of that day the fate of Jurandot’s manuscripts and the image they paint of the cultural life in the Warsaw Ghetto, will be discussed by extraordinary documentary filmmakerAgnieszka Arnold and the literary critic Agnieszka Żółkiewska, who is currently working o the next installment of the Ringelblum Archive, dedicated to the literary works saved by Oneg Shabbat and created by the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Jerzy Jurandot, one of the leaders of pre-war cabaret life, together with his wife Stefania Grodzieńska, was locked up in the Warsaw Ghetto in the fall of 1940 and survived there till the middle of the “great liquidation” in 1942. Jurandot tried to maintain elements of the past life, he organized artistic performances in the Melody Palace, later he opened the “Femina” theatre. The theatre put on light comedies or compilation programs which did not avoid satirical commentary of current events. The repertoire was changed regularly to satisfy the unchangingly large audience’s hunger for novelty.
In August 1942, thanks to the help of their friends, Jerzy Jurandot and his wife escaped from the ghetto. They hid in Gołąbki, near Warsaw, with the family of Zofia and Gabriel Kijkowscy. That’s where Jurandot’s memoirs were written, as well as, Stefania Grodzieńska’s book of poetry titled “The Children of the Ghetto”. Fearing the Germans they hid the texts in a glass jar and buried it in the garden. The jar was recovered after the war.
30 years ago Jerzy Jurandot’s wife gave the manuscripts written on the Aryan side, together with the post-war stories of life in the ghetto, to documentary filmmaker Agnieszka Arnold and forbade their publishing during her lifetime.
The texts, scrupulously deciphered and edited by Agnieszka Arnold, were the basis of the book “City of the Condemned. Two years in the Warsaw Ghetto” published last year by The Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The play “Love Looks for an Apartment’, whose manuscript was saved in the Ringelblum Archive, adds to the memoirs greatly.
Currently, due to Agnieszka Arnold’s generosity, the other Jurandot manuscripts from the “City of the Condemned…” are also part of the JHI’s Archives.
For the meeting concerning the plethora of information that the hitherto unknown writings of Jerzy Jurandot provided to Holocaust researchers, the surprising precision of his observations which allows us to get to know Jurandot’s characters and the new facts about the cultural life of Jewish Warsaw we can glean from the manuscripts, we chose the 73rd anniversary of the premiere of the comedy “Love Looks for an Apartment” in the “Femina” theater.
We invite you to our Thursday meeting at the Tłomackie Bookstore!