Languages

Background

The Polish city of Łódź has a marked joined Polish-Jewish-German history - since the mid 19th century it developed into an "eldorado of the East" and became an economical and cultural melting pot for jews, poles, germans and others. Within a few years it grew to be an important centre of the European textile industry, which created cooperation between varying cultural groups as well as competition and this intense and lively cooperation as well as forms of coexistence.

The city became to be a cultural medium and home for a type of citizen called "Lodz man" (lodzermensch), but it is a notion which is enigmatic and hard to grasp. Over the years the notion of lodzermensch has been described and rated differently – dependent on ideological, political, national perspective. It was idealized, exploited, romanticized, vilified … and sooner or later it grew to be a myth.

The world of the lodzermensch ended with the outbreak of the Second World War?

-----------------------------

In cooperation with the University of Łódź we will organize an encounter project between students/lecturers and Łódź citizens with five Łódź -born witnesses to history. They will report about everyday life and the differing cultural realities in the city before, during and after the Second World War. Their reports will help us to better envision and empathize (perhaps to better understand) how drastic, horrific and inexplicable the breach of the Second World War was and the consequences it had on this European city - and above all on individual people and their families. We will look at the histories and destinies of individual people of Łódź who stem from different cultural backgrounds. The witnesses we will meet are of Polish, Jewish, German or mixed decent. Some of them escaped, some were deported, some expelled, some left Łódź during or after the war, and some of them stayed. All of the witnesses we will meet were children or teenagers before or during the war.
Our project is divided in an encounter "seminar" featuring Łódź witnesses individually on separate days in May (with reports, questions and answers) and a visit to places in Łódź that are of importance to them individually - be it very private, or historical or of other symbolism. Our project will be documented on film and in text.