East West Street
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To a certain degree, we continue to carry them within ourselves without understanding all of it because history is very complicated. Last week, I was in Strasbourg, because the book just came out in a French translation in France. He told me that the book moved him very much, and I thanked him. He asked whether I knew why. And he asked if I knew his name. His great-grandfather, Andrzej Potocki , was assassinated in And now his great-grandson is a judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and for the first time in his life he is supposed to go to Lviv in November.
There is simply an incredible network of people around Lviv. After the book appeared, I had nearly events regarding the book East West Street all over the world. And after every event—literally after each one—someone would come up to me and tell me about his mother or father from Lviv. How can all these lacunae and concealments be filled? This was something of an obsession. When I arrived in Lviv, I instantly felt very comfortable. I wanted to come back and learn more. But that did not happen with Lviv. Six months later, in , I began to write the book. At first, there were three men in it: Leon, my grandfather, Lauterpacht, and Lemkin.
Hans Frank was added later. And each one had his own complex history. I worked for thousands of hours, even on documents whose language I did not understand: Ukrainian, Polish. Besides the work on the book, I have other work. I teach at university, and I also work as a lawyer.
When I need to work on a case at the International Court, I have to prove facts, and here I am simply obsessed, and I find all the necessary information and facts, I conduct investigations. He said no. I assume that it is she in this photo, which is also in the book. I searched for her identity for four years. And everything began from the circumstance that, in getting ready to go to Lviv in , I asked my mother to look for family documents; I wanted to know the street where my grandfather was born.
She went to her bedroom and came back with two large suitcases. In one of them I found a photograph with a signature, and asked my mother who was in this photograph. Someone had taken this picture seventy years ago, and I wanted to dig up the story behind it.
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There is even a photograph of her together with him, taken in in a park in Vienna. This led to even more questions. My grandfather and grandmother got married in , my mother was born in , my grandfather left Vienna for Paris in He left by himself.
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Eventually my mother went to Paris. But my grandmother stayed in Vienna. What happened? They were married, they had a child. What was wrong? After some time, I found another photograph. My grandfather had a lover, too—his best friend. I located the granddaughter of this man and wrote to her. Eventually she suggested that I do a DNA test to see whether we were related. It was very important for her. For me this was the most complicated feature of the work. That was difficult. And here I was meeting with the son of this man. That man had met Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels; with everyone.
That was complicated. Since then five years have passed, and we have become great friends. We— Niklas Frank and I—will soon be speaking live for two hours on public television in Paris. We truly like each other and are very good friends. Does this story line appear in the book? From all my work experience I have learned not to pin labels on people.
I hope that I truly treat every person on earth as an equal. I have been traveling for seven years to Lviv, where I have met some of the most estimable, humane, and wonderful people in the world. I also encountered fascists, anti-Semites, racists, but they exist in all countries; they are in Great Britain and France.
I came with open eyes. Yes, I had heard a lot of stories about Ukrainian anti-Semitism.
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Yes, but there are anti-Semites in a lot of other places. There are anti-Polish moods in Ukraine, and anti-Ukrainian ones in Poland. Right now, you and I are talking, but I am not telling myself that I am sitting with a Ukrainian woman who is probably an anti-Semite.
That would be absurd. For example, I went to Zhovkva to locate where my great-grandmother, Amaliia, was born. Lauterpacht was born on the very same street. He passed away recently; in a week I will be giving a speech at the commemorative ceremony. We had been friends for 30 years when we discovered that both of us had roots in the same street. This is Lembergstrasse, East West Street. So, I went to Zhovkva, where I tried to find the house where my great-grandmother was born and lived.
I succeeded in finding that place. And I told Liudmyla, the wonderful woman who was accompanying me, that it would be good to find old people who have been living here for a long time, elderly neighbors who might remember the year , when the entire Jewish population of Zhovkva was killed.
We actually found an elderly woman, who was ninety years old, and she and I started talking. She remembered everything and began to tell us about it. That woman and I agreed to meet one more time within a few days. I think the reason was that Ukrainians were involved in the destruction of the Jews. The executions of the Jews in Zhovkva were organized by the Germans, but in fact the act of killing was carried out by Ukrainians who were working in the police. She is the only person in that entire family who survived.
She managed to save herself in Lviv because she hid in a monastery. The nuns asked her to accept Catholicism, and she was baptized.
She hid there during the war and was saved, and later she moved to Paris. I met with her in Paris in This story is described in the book.
She describes seeing Germans and Ukrainians taking her mother somewhere. It was August Philippe Sands says that various countries have their own painful topics. Philippe Sands: There is no museum of colonialism in Great Britain. Nor are there museums commemorating the people who were killed in India or Africa. The only country that is truly dealing with what it did is Germany. Likewise, you will not find monuments in Lviv that speak about those events. I hope that my book will at least help people learn about the history of the two or three preceding generations, and become interested in history and in their own ancestry.
There is a very important tone here. I am not criticizing anyone, I remain neutral and am simply recounting history. I do not feel anger toward the people of today. Returning to your question about stereotypes of anti-Semitism—this is a complicated history. I think that Lviv has to absorb what happened. The city must recognize its own role in those events and who is responsible. This is complicated and difficult. France has its own traumas, connected with the experience of collaborationism, as well as its own stereotypes about the role of the local population in the Shoah, the Holocaust.
What does Philippe Sands say about this from his own experience of book launches in France, where a translation of his book was also published?
East West Street: A Song of Good and Evil - 92Y, New York
A week ago, I had book launches in France and there was a lot of press. I noticed that readers have different reactions from the ones I observed in Great Britain. For example, in England there was no experience of collaborationism. But there was in France. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Philippe Sands. Matrix Chambers. Retrieved 27 March University College London.
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