by George J Elbaum
Mszczonow is a town approximately 25 miles southwest of Warsaw with a current population of 6000. Its population was only slightly smaller in 1939 when the Nazis invaded it, and at that time 40% of it was Jewish. Now it is zero. The town’s “School Complex” became a part of the Forum for Dialogue’s School of Dialogue program only a few months ago, and the students have just very recently finished their chosen project.
This afternoon my wife Mimi and I were taken to the school in Mszczonow by Zuzanna Radzik, the Forum’s Executive Board Member, who arranged my talk and translated it for those in the audience whose English was not quite as fluent as most others. The school’s principal and Polish teacher Marianna Sosinska organized the event with the help of history teacher Wioletta Pokora, who introduced me to the audience of students and staff. It was held in the auditorium of the town’s modern Osrodek Kultury. During my talk, students Karolina, Ilona, Szymon, and Piotr read passages from my book (which the Forum had translated and published in Polish), and this was followed by an active question & answer session. Afterwards, Mimi, Zuza and I received gifts of truly beautiful flowers, books and ceramic mugs, followed by an extended book signing which was made enjoyable for me by brief chats with students (per the photos below). After a very full day we drove back to Warsaw, tired but very pleased by the day’s activities and the warm welcome that we received.