Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies at UCSB
In Commemoration of Yom HaShoah and Holocaust Remembrance Week Inaugural Event
“Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film”
Thursday, April 16 / 8:00 p.m. / Free
UCSB Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall
How does one write of an abomination? How to serve and preserve a people and a place wiped off the face of the earth by evil? To touch its piquancy, avoid melodrama, make real its honor and dignity, its contradictions and scandals, the vital and messy humanness of the human project trooping along? It isn’t easy. In Three Minutes in Poland, Glenn Kurtz accomplishes the act not through mourning... but through revivifying those people and that place... and luminous bursts of incarnation." —Peter Lewis, The Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2014
Traveling in Europe in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of World War II, Glenn Kurtz’s grandfather captured three minutes of ordinary life in a small, predominantly Jewish town in Poland on 16mm Kodachrome color film. More than seventy years later, through the brutal twists of history, these few minutes of home movie footage would become a memorial to an entire community—an entire culture—annihilated in the Holocaust.
Three Minutes in Poland (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) traces Kurtz’s four-year journey to identify the people in his grandfather’s haunting images. His search took him across the United States, to Canada, England, Poland and Israel, to archives, film preservation laboratories, and an abandoned Luftwaffe airfield. Ultimately, he encountered seven living survivors from this lost town, including an eighty-six-year-old man who appears in the film as a thirteen-year-old boy.
Painstakingly assembled from interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts, Three Minutes in Poland tells the rich, funny, harrowing, and surprisingly intertwined stories of these seven survivors and their Polish hometown. Originally a travel souvenir, this home movie became the sole remaining record of a vibrant town on the brink of catastrophe. Pursuing the significance of this brief film became a riveting exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival.
Glenn Kurtz is the author of Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film, which was named a “Best Book of 2014” by The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, and NPR. The Wall Street Journal praised it as “captivating” and The Los Angeles Times described it as “breathtaking.” His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory-Tufts University double degree program and holds a PhD from Stanford University in German studies and comparative literature. He has taught at Stanford University, California College of the Arts, and New York University.
Sponsor: Sponsor: Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies, UCSB.