The post below is signed by Emmanuel Cortey, Deputy Director of Yahad- In Unum, who is accompanying the research trip to Poland (Jun. 16th – Jul. 2nd).
Translation from French: Yelena Moskovich
Friday, June 27th, 2014
The road is long from Warsaw to Sanok in southern Poland, where I am joining the team tonight. But when the car starts in front of the Frederic Chopin Airport, I find myself looking forward to the ride. I know that time is needed before delving into the rhythm of a Yahad – In Unum investigation on the ground. One must gather one’s thoughts, prepare to listen to difficult testimonies while remaining emotionally neutral, face complex issues, not only historical but also human. An afternoon drive will do me good. Little Poland’s countryside, as if built for reflection, helps me think.
It is already late when I arrive at the hotel. Night has fallen. I find everyone at the table around Michal, the team leader, for an end-of-the-day meeting. I say hello and am presented to those I have not yet met. It is always moving for me to meet the members of the investigation team whose work I know and admire.
They have been working on the ground for 10 days already and everyone is very concentrated. In my previous research trips, I could see how during the whole trip this level of concentration was maintained. The silent echos of the witnesses’ words, the questions which, interview after interview, are clarify the stories, continue to inhabit the spirit.
The table is covered with maps and notebooks. The investigators bring up the located witnesses to be interviewed that day and who will be interviewed in the days to come. Despite the difficulties of conducting research in this zone which has been greatly urbanized and which has known a significant flux of population, the research results are exceptional. Interviews with numerous direct eye-witnesses to the mass shootings of Jew as well as to the massacres of Gypsies have been discovered – certain of which are completely absent from the historical archives. This is thanks to the information on the camps, their construction, their operation, given to those who were requisitioned.
I expect to have a solitary diner, arriving so late, but am pleasantly surprised to see that despite the long day, the team has waited for me to start the meal. The discussion continues in the dining room, but we don’t stay up too late, as our work awaits us early tomorrow!