Poland: From Gdynia to Hirschberg – five tips for city trips

Polen is practically on the doorstep – and has a number of special cities to offer that are unfairly overshadowed by Warsaw or Krakow. We offer five suggestions for a short trip to the neighboring country.

Szczecin: tradition and new beginnings

A pinch of Hamburg, a touch of Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg from the nineties: this is how locals describe the new spirit of the old Hanseatic city of Stettin, which is now called Szczecin and is the capital of the up-and-coming West Pomeranian Voivodeship. In fact, the former German, now Polish Baltic Sea port city is different from visitor magnets such as Gdansk and Breslau, whose historical centers were also destroyed during the war, but were then quickly and completely refurbished according to the old model.

Szczecin, on the other hand, located close to the border, still shows breaks in the cityscape.


Jewish pilgrims are stuck on the border with Ukraine

Dhe Ukraine fears a rush of up to 4,000 Jewish pilgrims who want to celebrate the New Year’s festival Rosh Hashanah in the Ukrainian city of Uman as they do every year, but are not allowed to enter legally due to the corona pandemic. About 800 Hasidic pilgrims have been stuck north of Chernihiv in the no man’s land on the border between Belarus and Ukraine since Tuesday night. This emerges from reports distributed by the Ukrainian border guards.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

One of the videos shows how the head of the border guard, General Serhiy Dejneko, explains to representatives of the pilgrims that it has long been known that citizens of other countries have not been allowed to enter since August 28th. In the meantime, pilgrims gathered in front of a chain of Ukrainian border officials, some singing and praying, while dozens of trucks that wanted to cross the border were jammed behind the chain. Kiev appealed to the Belarusian border guards not to let other travelers through.

During the course of Tuesday, a Belarusian spokesman announced that the pilgrims who were in no man’s land would be allowed back into Belarus. Dejneko expected several flights to the Belarusian capital Minsk on Tuesday and several thousand more pilgrims who wanted to travel around 700 kilometers to their destination in Ukraine through various border crossings by land.

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The governments of Israel and Ukraine – new corona record numbers have been reported from both countries for days – had jointly appealed weeks ago not to go to Uman this year. There is the grave of the tzaddik Nachman von Brazlaw (1772 to 1810), a rabbi revered by Hasidic Jews. The festival of Rosh Hashanah begins on Friday. Israel has announced that it will send its own police officers to Uman.

In the past few days, pilgrims who had already arrived at the grave in Uman tore down a cordon that had been erected because of the corona pandemic; two of those involved were expelled from Ukraine. Because it is apparently expected that pilgrims will continue to arrive, medical controls are to apply on the streets around Uman and strict regulations for crowds in the city itself.

In the past seven days, between 2,400 and 3,200 new infections per day were counted in Ukraine. That is almost four times more infections per head of the population than in Germany. The mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, said on Monday there was the “highest number of fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic” in the capital of three million people, namely eleven deaths in one day. A corona hotspot is the sparsely populated area around the western Ukrainian city of Ternopil, with around 300 new cases every day.


Courts in Poland overturn LGBT decisions

DThe controversy over the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals has reached a new high in Poland: two courts have declared decisions of two municipalities “invalid” in which they advocate strengthening the role of the traditional family and against the alleged Advance of an “LGBT ideology.” In doing so, they followed suit from the Polish spokesman for civil rights, Adam Bodnar.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

The administrative courts of the voivodships (districts) of Upper Silesia and Mazovia were in similar rulings this week, with such decisions the municipalities exceeded their powers and violated the prohibition of discrimination of the constitution. The term “LGBT ideology” is vague and controversial, and the consequences of such a decision could have a discriminatory effect.

The Bodnars office said that the verdict in Upper Silesia on Tuesday created a precedent “that can significantly change the situation of LGBT people in Poland”. Last year, the capital city of Warsaw adopted an “LGBT Charter” to protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals. As a result, about a hundred municipalities, counties and districts, almost all in the conservative south-east of Poland, had passed resolutions “against the LGBT ideology” or “for family rights”. President Andrzej Duda also made LGBT a topic in the election campaign. Two senior officials from the EU Commission recently warned in a letter to four districts of discrimination against sexual minorities.

Twinning is on the brink

In the meantime, the dispute over the legal position of LGBT people is also weighing on the relationships between Polish municipalities and their partner cities, for example in Germany. For example, the Berlin district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf has a partnership with Poniatowa, a city in southeastern Poland, where the city council passed a decision in 2019.

Mayor Cerstin Richter-Kotowski (CDU) is concerned about developments in Poland, as she said on Thursday. The district office wrote a letter to the partners in Poniatowa: one hopes that the decision will be “reconsidered and withdrawn”. German-Polish relations are extremely important; “It is all the more difficult for me to see which path Poland has taken last,” said Richter-Kotowski of the “Berliner Zeitung”. However, the partnership will not be terminated.

The Bavarian town of Pfaffenhofen initially let the partnership with the Polish Tarnow expire on July 3 and will decide in September whether the partnership will be extended. The Dutch city of Nieuwegein, on the other hand, canceled the partnership with the Polish city of Pulawy on Tuesday due to their LGBT decision.


Poland, a president against the European Union

The difficult re-election of Andrzej Duda, supported by the anti-European Law and Justice party, reveals a divided electorate but it consolidates the government in its desire for total control over the country, criticized and fought in Brussels.

Andrzej Duda.
Andrzej Duda. Czarek Sokolowski / AP / SIPA

● A difficult victory

Monday, July 13, it was not until early morning that the winner of the Polish presidential election was chosen. With 52.1% of the vote in the second round, the outgoing Andrzej Duda finally beat Rafal Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw. Supported by the nationalist and conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) – which holds an absolute majority in the Diet and to which Prime Minister Morawiecki belongs -, he snatched his second five-year term after a bitter campaign and at the end of a uncertain election until the end. Andrzej Duda attacked private media, notably the opposition newspaper, to win over his rival of the Civic Platform, a center-right pro-European formation Fact, co-published by the German group Springer. “Do the Germans intend to appoint the Polish president?” he launched a few days before the election, referring to the shareholders of this daily. Opposed to any form of homosexual union in the name of defending the

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The contempt of the elite is almost racist

Poland seems lost after the tight presidential election. Liberals look down on the rural population. The country chooses anti-liberal. American conditions prevail. The left and right are closer to each other than they think. .

Torah and tortured souls – Culture / Next

In facts, Philip Roth writes, about the environment of his youth spent in the Jewish quarter of Newark: “I did not know a child whose family had been separated by a divorce. Apart from magazines devoted to cinema and headlines from daily newspapers, that did not exist, and certainly not among Jews like us. Jews weren’t divorced – not because divorce was prohibited by Jewish law, but because they were like that […]. Indivisibility of the family: first command. ” The opposite happens at the same time (the 1940s), in New York, in the novels of Isaac Bashevis Singer, and in the Charlatan especially. The atmosphere is that of Hollywood comedies where men and women frenzy frantically, with the added bonus of the constant invocation of the Torah. The characters of Charlatan have several divorces on the clock, and “Sentimental complications” are one of the causes of their agitation. Another cause is the cruelty of God: that he abandons them is a misfortune from which they do not recover. Hertz Minsker, the charlatan of the title, arrives in New York since Warsaw in 1940. He fled Hitler and took along a woman who, for her part, left in Poland husband and children. Once in the United States, Hertz saved his skin but suffocated under the weight of his “Addiction to women” and “Inextricable situations” in which his desire places him. “He should have become a rabbi, at the head of a court. Or a great Jewish leader. He had culture, wisdom, sensitivity. And even faith. “ Singer’s characters are immersed in Yiddish culture and metaphysics.

Published today for the first time as a volume, the Charlatan first appeared in serial in 1967 and 1968 in the New York daily Yiddish fosterhome. Like all of his texts, Singer wrote it in Yiddish. The interest of Charlatan does not reside in its frame, but in its excited rhythm of spinning top, in its tragicomic aftershocks and its mixture of modernity and nostalgia for a lost world. The ongoing destruction of European Jews haunts him. It is Singer, a vaudeville overflowing with a beloved culture, whose rituals and objects are regularly recalled. Now these immigrants live in New York. The city, usually celebrated in fiction, is little described here and hostile. It protects the Jews who fled the East, but they despise it because money is king there: “Here, being poor is considered the worst of misfortunes. A teacher told me that one day when he was teaching children the Pentateuch, a boy asked him if Moses was a salaried worker or if he had his own box. This is America. “

The sentence is spoken by Morris Calisher, the other hero of the Charlatan. He left Warsaw for New York in 1935, like Isaac Bashevis Singer. Morris is in the real estate business and nothing is in his mind either. The victories of Hitler and Mussolini as reported in the newspapers overwhelm him, the inertia of God in the face of catastrophe revolts this mystic, who is not Zionist; in all of this, too, Morris is a duplicate of Singer. He’s complaining : “I have raised children who are worse than converts. Fania is an anti-Semite, she hates the Jews. She says things that Goebbels would say too. ” A drop of water overflows the Morris vase: Minna, his wife, cheats on him with Hertz, in whom Morris thought he had a friend. Secondary intrigue abounds, there are too many, Minna’s ex-husband arrives in New York to find her and to pluck Morris by selling her supposedly valuable paintings when they are fakes. “It is indeed my chance to have been the wife of the worst Jew still alive”, plague Minna, who charitably adds: “Naturally, I was happy to know that he was safe and sound. No one deserves to be killed by Hitler. ”

Thieves and “Whores” are the pillars of the Singer world where you torture your soul by practicing rehashing, as with Saul Bellow, Singer’s first translator in English. Immature and cerebral, immoral and obsessed with morality, Singer’s characters are full of contradictions. They release an involuntary comic which will soon be that of the films of Woody Allen. Very often they are serious: “They will exterminate us all, said Morris, speaking of the Nazis, and what will God do? Will he bring souls to heaven? Will Hitler roast in hell? Couldn’t he have organized the universe a little better before? ”

Virginie Bloch-Lainé

Isaac Bashevis Singer The Charlatan

Translated from the English (United States) by Marie-Pierre Bay and Nicolas Castelnau-Bay, Stock, 416 pp., € 22.50 (ebook: € 15.99).


Poland postpones presidential election in extremis

The opposition criticizes the maneuver, denouncing an agreement negotiated in secret, and revealed a few minutes after the end of the presidential debate.


PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski (with a mask, center) at the Assembly Thursday with several members of the Polish government.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski (with a mask, center) at the Assembly Thursday with several members of the Polish government. WOJTEK RADWANSKI / AFP

In warsaw

While confinement sits billions of viewers in front of their screens, the Poles watch their newspapers and watch, day after day, a bad soap opera that has been going on for two months. It has even just been renewed for a new season. The presidential campaign should have accelerated in early March. But the epidemic stopped everything. Except for the wish of the PiS, the ruling party, Law and Justice, to maintain the election, and preferably on May 10.

This was without counting a new twist that occurred on Wednesday evening. However, multiple scenarios had been envisaged: an election at the end of May, this summer, in the fall or even next year, as the main opposition party wishes. But no one predicted that less than four days before the election, his fate would be decided in an office, between two deputies. On the one hand, Jaroslaw Gowin, a partner in the ultra-conservative ruling coalition. Opposed to the May 10 election, he left government

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