The Book

A BOOK AS A ROAD MOVIE: A TRIP TO REMOTE AREAS AND DISPLACED TIMES

The past often breaks into the present, when one does not expect. Just like that night in July of 2006 in Krakow, as the German journalist Uwe von Seltmann meets Polish artist Gabriela Maciejowska. The two fall in love, but they must soon realize that the past is not past, but connecting them in a fatal way:

Uwe’s grandfather Lothar von Seltmann was during the Second World War an SS-man in Cracow, Gabriela’s grandfather Michał Pazdanowski was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz. Three years after the publication of his book “Schweigen die Tater, reden die Enkel” (If the perpetrators will not speak, their grandchildren will), Fischer TB, 2nd edition 2011, in which he tells the story of the research about his grandfather, the author embarks again on the search for the clues. He wants to trace the life and death of Michał Pazdanowski. Gabriela, now his wife, refuses at first, because she is afraid to open Pandora’s box and old wounds.  But eventually they start searching together. The search for answers leads them through half of Europe: in the Ukrainian Huzulei and the French Basque country, to Vienna and Lublin, to Majdanek and Auschwitz. Everywhere they meet people who break their lifelong silence and tell incredible stories, they discover deeply moving testimonies of friendship. Their travel to remote areas and repressed pasts is for them more and more a journey into themselves: They realize that they are not the only ones who need to learn to deal with the ghosts of the past. And that only those who know the past can shape the future as the poet Hermann Hesse said: “Anything that has not been suffered and solved to the end will return.”

The four years of our research resulted in a project called “The Future of the Past” and a book entitled “Todleben” published in Germany in February 2012 by Herbig (publishing house) and in Poland in May 2012 by PWN.