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Thread: Polish film "Ida"

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    Polish film "Ida"



    This is a great Polish film. Even the score is great. It's well worth the time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JIXxo8qUn0



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_%28film%29


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    I haven't watched it yet, but I will. Angela, what do you think about the character of former prosecutor Wanda Gruz ??? I have seen harsh criticism of the way how this character (which is based on a real person - Stalinist regime's prosecutor Helena Wolińska-Brus) was portrayed. I have also read reviews which criticize the fact that this movie doesn't explain the historical context of events, and that Western audience - who are usually not too familiar with Polish history - won't understand it, or rather will misunderstand it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomenable View Post
    I haven't watched it yet, but I will. Angela, what do you think about the character of former prosecutor Wanda Gruz ??? I have seen harsh criticism of the way how this character (which is based on a real person - Stalinist regime's prosecutor Helena Wolińska-Brus) was portrayed. I have also read reviews which criticize the fact that this movie doesn't explain the historical context of events, and that Western audience - who are usually not too familiar with Polish history - won't understand it, or rather will misunderstand it.
    Good idea for another good movie.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomenable View Post
    I haven't watched it yet, but I will. Angela, what do you think about the character of former prosecutor Wanda Gruz ??? I have seen harsh criticism of the way how this character (which is based on a real person - Stalinist regime's prosecutor Helena Wolińska-Brus) was portrayed. I have also read reviews which criticize the fact that this movie doesn't explain the historical context of events, and that Western audience - who are usually not too familiar with Polish history - won't understand it, or rather will misunderstand it.

    Nothing surprises me about committed Communists lending themselves to purges, if that's what you mean. It certainly wasn't limited to Jewish Communists.

    Everything I've ever read or heard about the really committed Communists, no matter what their ethnicity, indicates that they were "true believers", as indoctrinated into Communism as Torquemada's henchmen were indoctrinated into their brand of Catholicism, and just as undiscriminating about the means they were willing to use to achieve their ends. This was true in the Spanish Civil War, in Italy during and after the War, in Russia after the Revolution, and in eastern Europe after the Soviets took over and the previously persecuted Communists came into power.

    Since we're talking movies...

    Have you seen "Dr. Zhivago?" It's probably my favorite movie ever and covers this period. I'm one of those people who thinks "War and Peace" gives you more of a sense of the Napoleonic War in Russia than a textbook, and I think that's equally true of this film and the Russian Revolution. For what it's worth, it's different from the novel, but in these terms it's just as valuable. Beware that there's a lot of "love stuff" in it, as my son used to say. :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1iQ5hQTR5s

    "Reds" is also great, and shows that even Americans raised in a liberal democracy weren't immune, and accepted and excused if not promulgated this kind of activity.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXP5LQx4slc

    To return to "Ida", I think the aunt's activities add another layer of complexity, in that she doesn't have "clean hands" either, but it doesn't change or invalidate what the film shows about what went on in Europe during the War. After all, are only the totally innocent in every sphere whatsoever entitled to bear witness about the evil done to them and their families?

    I don't know what there is to misunderstand in terms of the history of that period. We in the west, unlike the people of eastern Europe, have been exposed for decades to books, films, and documentaries which depict what went on all over Europe and especially in Germany and eastern Europe during the war. We're also not virtually "Jew free" like some countries in Europe, so we have heard actual testimony from survivors and people who fled before the war. We know very well the kind of virulent anti-semitism that existed before the war and that conditioned people's responses and how some people acted.

    There's nothing really new here; it's just brilliantly done in an artistic sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela
    Have you seen "Dr. Zhivago?" It's probably my favorite movie ever and covers this period. I'm one of those people who thinks "War and Peace" gives you more of a sense of the Napoleonic War in Russia than a textbook, and I think that's equally true of this film and the Russian Revolution. For what it's worth, it's different from the novel, but in these terms it's just as valuable. Beware that there's a lot of "love stuff" in it, as my son used to say. :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1iQ5hQTR5s
    I have seen both and I agree that they are great movies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela
    We know very well the kind of virulent anti-semitism that existed before the war and that conditioned people's responses and how some people acted. There's nothing really new here; it's just brilliantly done in an artistic sense.
    Actually here (link below), Jewish historian Dovid Katz says about "neighbours with whom they [Jews] never had a problem before the war" (which kind of contradicts claims about "virulent anti-semitism that existed before the war"). Apparently, the anti-semitism in question - though it could exist to some degree before the war - vastly intensified only during the war, between September 1939 and June 1941, under the Soviet occupation (as claimed in the comment posted below the video by "michael mills"):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P69THx4vO8c

    Not to mention that after the Germans came in 1941 they also started to spread Anti-Semitic propaganda.

    BTW - this movie "Ida" is unique because it has been accused of being both Anti-Jewish and Anti-Polish (depending whom you ask). These who claim that it's Anti-Jewish complain that it propagates the stereotype of Jews as eager collaborators of the Communist Regime (see Wanda Gruz). And the other guys complain that it propagates the stereotype of Polish Anti-Semitism.

    Anyway - as Jewish historian David Solomon explains here (link below), Anti-Semitism is a much older tradition in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe (which is the very reason why the vast majority of Europe's Jews used to live in Eastern Europe in ca. 1800 - they had been either cleansed or expelled from Western Europe before that, fleeing eastward to Poland-Lithuania):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUlM2a2tsOM#t=3350

    Quote:

    "(...) The Shoah is not an isolated event. The project to exterminate the Jews of Germany happens here [pointing at the timeline of history], and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. And so people say - so why did Jews keep going back to Germany? Why did Jews keep going back? And I say - look at your own generation. Only half a century after the Holocaust, and what is the largest growing Jewish community in the world outside of Israel? It's Germany. And yet surely the lesson of this entire wall [pointing at the timeline of history] is that Jews should not be living in Germany. We hope and we pray... in the end of the day, in hundreds of years from now, I'm hoping that... well, if I'm starting to explain that more I'm gonna get further and further into problem, so I'm gonna stop, let's go back to history (...)"

    In recent years you can again observe an increase of Anti-Semitism in the West, both among Muslims and native inhabitants.

    It's unbelievable how Germany is gradually washing off its guilt for the Holocaust. Soon people will claim that Eastern European governments had been planning to exterminate their Jews before the Germans invaded, or similar lies. As if Germans killed only Jews, and did not even persecute members of other Eastern Europen ethnic groups as well, whom they saw as inferior too (for example my family also lost several members in WW2, including one killed by Germans in Auschwitz). See the "Generalplan Ost".

    In the USA German-Americans are very numerous so it's not surprising that they prefer to blame occupied nations instead of occupiers:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_collective_guilt

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respon...locaust#Poland

    Of course there were many despicable collaborators who helped the Germans in hunting Jews, but those were individuals and one can't blame entire ethnic groups or nations which were occupied by Germany. At the same time Westerners are silent about the enormous scale of collaboration with the Nazis in countries such as France (where not only some individual Anti-Semitic French people, but also the very state apparatus of Vichy France's government eagerly helped the German Nazis in exterminating France's Jews).

    In case of Poles you have Jedwabne, about which Jan Tomasz Gross wrote a book.

    Recently Jedwabne is being constantly portrayed (falsely) in the media, as an exclusively Polish crime.

    People forget, that already in 1964, West German court ruled that Germans bare the main responsibility. Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen zur Aufklärung National Sozialistischer Verbrechen, in Jedwabne case (signature 5 AR-Z 13/62) ruled that guilty of the crime was Einsatzkommando SS Zichenau-Schröttersburg (under SS-Hauptsturmführer Hermann Schaper).

    In 2002 a separate Polish IPN investigation established that apart from German SS-men, also ca. 40 ethnically Polish male collaborators participated in the killings - most of them from Jedwabne, but some from neighbouring villages. IPN investigators established the number of killed Jews to be 340. They also found 46 "Mauser" rifle shells and 60 "Walter" pistol shells at the site of the crime. Those were weapons used by the Germans. The investigation shows that Jan Tomasz Gross exaggerated the role played by Poles:

    On July 9, 2002, IPN released the final findings of its two-year-long investigation.[44] In a carefully worded summary (quoted by Polonsky),[45] IPN stated its principal conclusions as follows:

    The perpetrators of the crime sensu stricto were Polish inhabitants of Jedwabne and its environs; responsibility for the crime sensu largo could be ascribed to the Germans. IPN found that Poles played a "decisive role" in the massacre, but the massacre was "inspired by the Germans". The massacre was carried out in full view of the Germans, who were armed and had control of the town (...). IPN wrote: “The presence of German military policemen.....and other uniformed Germans.....was tantamount to consent to, and tolerance of, the crime.”
    At least 340 Jewish victims were killed in the pogrom, in two groups of which the first contained 40 to 50 people, and the second contained about 300. The exact number of victims could not be determined. The figure of 1,600 or so victims cited in Neighbors was “highly unlikely, and was not confirmed in the course of the investigation.”
    “At least forty (Polish) men” were perpetrators of the crime. As for the remainder of Jedwabne’s population, IPN deplored “the passive behavior of the majority of the town’s population in the face of the crime.” However, IPN’s finding of "utter passivity" shown by the majority of Jedwabne’s population is very different from the statement on page 7 of ‘Neighbors’ that “half of the population of the town murdered the other half.” The majority of Jedwabne residents were “utterly passive,” IPN found, and they did not participate in the pogrom.
    A number of witnesses had testified that the Germans drove the group of Jewish victims from Jedwabne’s town square to the barn where they were killed (these testimonies are found in the expanded 203-page ‘Findings’ published in June 2003). IPN could neither conclusively prove nor disprove these accounts. “Witness testimonies vary considerably on this question.”
    “A certain group of Jewish people survived” the massacre. Several dozen Jews, or according to several sources approximately one hundred Jews, lived in a ghetto in Jedwabne until November 1942, when the Jews were transferred by the Germans to a ghetto in Lomza, and eventually died in Treblinka. The seven Jews hidden by the Wyrzykowski family were not the only survivors.
    Another thing is that Jedwabne is probably the only such a large-scale known incident involving ethnic Poles.

    Had there been other similar incidents, Jan Tomasz Gross would have already published a dozen of books about them.

    Since he did not publish anything about "other Jedwabnes", I assume he was unable to find any other cases.
    Last edited by Tomenable; 06-03-16 at 22:05.

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    BTW - here is an interview with Jan Tomasz Gross (in Polish), in which he claims that he learned about the existence of "large-scale Polish Antisemitism" only after emigrating from Poland to the USA: http://dzieje.pl/postacie/jan-tomasz-gross

    My translation below:

    "For a very long time I did not realize this [the scale of Polish Antisemitism]. My first two books, written already in America, totally do not concern the issues of the fate of Jews and of Anti-Semitism. My eyes were opening very slowly, during the last 15 years."

    - said Gross in an interview with PAP (Polish Press Agency)

    So, as long as he lived in Poland, he "did not realize" that there was a virulent Polish Anti-Semitism.

    Only after moving to America, he gradually learned a lot more about Poland. How is it possible?

    =====================

    By the way, there were also Polish Anti-Semites who were saving Jews from the Holocaust during WW2.

    One example is Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, who was ideologically an Anti-Semite (which is clear from texts written and published by her), but who considered saving Jews to be her Catholic obligation, and who encouraged others to save Jews during the occupation. Most notably, she was one of co-founders of the Council to Aid Jews "Zegota". She is one of the Righteous Among the Nations:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._ethnic_origin

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/...st/Zegota.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomenable View Post
    BTW - here is an interview with Jan Tomasz Gross (in Polish), in which he claims that he learned about the existence of "large-scale Polish Antisemitism" only after emigrating from Poland to the USA: http://dzieje.pl/postacie/jan-tomasz-gross

    My translation below:

    "For a very long time I did not realize this [the scale of Polish Antisemitism]. My first two books, written already in America, totally do not concern the issues of the fate of Jews and of Anti-Semitism. My eyes were opening very slowly, during the last 15 years."

    - said Gross in an interview with PAP (Polish Press Agency)

    So, as long as he lived in Poland, he "did not realize" that there was a virulent Polish Anti-Semitism.

    Only after moving to America, he gradually learned a lot more about Poland. How is it possible?

    =====================

    By the way, there were also Polish Anti-Semites who were saving Jews from the Holocaust during WW2.

    One example is Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, who was ideologically an Anti-Semite (which is clear from texts written and published by her), but who considered saving Jews to be her Catholic obligation, and who encouraged others to save Jews during the occupation. Most notably, she was one of co-founders of the Council to Aid Jews "Zegota". She is one of the Righteous Among the Nations:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._ethnic_origin

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/...st/Zegota.html
    Difficult history of any nation is not anything to be proud of and make it a popular subject. From my official education in Poland I've learnt that Poles only helped Jews in the past, and all the crime was done either by Tsar's Russia or Hitler's Germany. Well, it was easy to believe that my nation is the best in the world, so I believe the official story. We never hurt a Jew, period. I believed that, in face of many openly antisemitic people that I knew. How was this possible? Some kind of blindness?
    Antisemitism was there when I was growing up and still is there anytime I'm visiting Poland. It is not a rampant or violent antisemitism, more in a form of blaming an ethnicity for shortcomings of economy and political mess, but still there. Sad but true.

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    It really can't be said more eloquently than Le Brok did so I won't try. When you live in a totalitarian system, you know what you're allowed to know.

    I'll just add a few links for those who are interested.

    This is a three part testimony by a Polish Jewish woman who survived in Poland by "passing" as a Polish Catholic. She married a Pole, and remained in Poland, but was always afraid to tell the truth, even to her own children. She submitted to this interview only after her husband's death and her emigration to the U.S.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tLAc4eGwqY

    @Tomenable,

    I don't know why you would think that the cowardice or outright collaboration of the people in other occupied countries isn't known, along with the occasional act of bravery or grace. There are innumerable books, documentaries and feature films on the subject.

    These are some that come to mind right off the top of my head.

    France:
    The Sorrow and the Pity
    Au Revoir Mes Enfant
    Night and Fog
    Sarah's Key
    Un Village Francais

    Italy:
    The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
    The Truce-Based on the autobiography of Primo Levi

    The Netherlands:
    Secrets of War

    Set in Poland:
    Sophie's Choice
    The Pianist
    Angry Harvest
    Remembrance

    The best memoirs I've ever read from eastern European Jews are anything written by Elie Wiesel about Romania, and the journals written by the chronicler of the fate of the Warsaw ghetto, "Notes From the Warsaw Ghetto", by Emanuel Ringelbaum. It was fictionaiized first by John Hersey in "The Wall", and then by Leon Uris in the novel "Mila 18". They're both very readable. Elie Wiesel's work is almost beyond words-searingly devastating.

    Ed. This is another testimony by a Polish Jew. She offers a unique perspective because she was adopted by a Polish Catholic family. Neither she nor her "other parents" as she calls them, knew that she was Jewish until she was almost twelve. The irony is that she was very anti-Semitic when she was told.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9alPgK9SLKs
    Last edited by Angela; 15-03-16 at 17:55.

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    I am going to watch it, thank you very much

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