At the crossroads. Jewish youth in PRL 1956–1968

Piotr Pęziński

At the crossroads. Jewish youth in PRL 1956–1968

Jewish Historical Institute
Publication year

Piotr Pęziński is a journalist and historian, a graduate of the Faculty of History at the University of Warsaw. He cooperates with a forum of „March emigrants” — „Plotkies”, „Słowo Żydowskie” and „Rzeczpospolita”. In 2012 he won first prize at the fifth edition of the Majer Bałaban Contest for the best Master’s and Doctoral thesis on the Jews and Israel, organized by the Jewish Historical Institute.
„We have received the first work, in which on such a large scale, a fascinating social phenomenon — the Jewish youth movement in PRL — was analyzed. Moreover, it was based on other sources than only filtered-by-the-passage-of-time memories of the March emigrants. In addition, a balanced approach of the Author also deserves to be underlined as he did not succumb to fascination nor ’the dark side of the humanity’ (meaning materials made by SB and MSW), nor strong emotions, which still now are very strong among the emigrants. [...] The book is written in an expressive, gripping language”.
(dr Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov)

Promotion of Piotr Pęziński’s book titled „At the crossroads. Jewish youth in PRL 1956–1968” 

In Ashkelon, a costal city in Israel, during a traditional meeting of the emigration of 1968, took place a promotion of Piotr Pęziński’s book titled „At the crossroads. Jewish youth in PRL 1956–1968”, published by the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute.

The subject of the book is the activity of the Social-Cultural Association of Jews among adolescents in the years 1956–1968, and it is in Ashkelon that the characters described in the book — students of Jewish schools, participants of Jewish summer camps, and scouts — have met regularly for twenty five years. Therefore, it was a double occasion: for Piotr Pęziński to personally meet the people who he writes about in his book, and for the participants to face their own past and meet the author who decided to take it up. At least a few dozens of people listed in the name index were present at the convention, including two out of four former editors of „Nasz Głos”, a magazine that the author also referred to while writing his dissertation.

After the book presentation, the author was asked many questions regarding the selection of the source materials or problems connected with limited choice of that or other aspects of methodology. People were also interested in Piotr Pęziński’s motivation for taking up this still rather little-known subject.

The book was well-received even though its outline was known by the participants in its first version of the thesis, published two years ago on an internet forum of the March emigration, Plotkies.

All of the available copies of the book sold out very quickly, and many people were unable to purchase the book during the meeting.

The author of the book, Piotr Pęziński, had spent a few days in Ashkelon, thanks to which he was able to develop a close rapport with the group of people described in his book. We hope that new publications will be the fruits of these discussions.

Adam Gryniewicz 

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