History through Stories
I was always a good student of history who remembered none of it after the exam. I had a photographic memory that captured all the necessary details, but they were never significant enough to really teach me history.
I have started to realize that my best hope of learning about a place and its past is through stories of its people. I think that was the reason my recent trip to Poland seemed to fill my head with words from people about what they did or experienced, letting the staggering numbers slip away.
Last night was a continuation of that experience as we attended the US premiere of a documentary “Three Stories of Galicia.” The filmmakers are two energetic young women -- one from Ukraine, the other from Lebanon. For the past five years they have worked to produce this excellent film that portrays the complexity of this area that knows no current political boundaries.
Quoting from the front of the handout we received: Three Stories of Galicia is a feature-length documentary that offers a unique glimpse into the events that took place during and after World War II in the Eastern European region of Galicia. It pays tribute to the unknown heroes of that war, the regular people who rose above fear and prejudice to do what was right instead of what was easy: a Jewish family that chose to save its worst enemy; a Ukrainian woman who endured the theft of her children to save her country; and a Polish priest who risked everything to end the sectarian hatred that tore at his parish.
These are the bits of history that will stick in my mind forever. All of life is really just a narrative, isn’t it?