The year was 1968. The United States was divided. Revolutionary leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. The Vietnam War raged on as did the protests against it, and civil rights unrest continued to escalate.
Across the Atlantic ocean, Poland was going through its own internal strife. Under communist rule, with a population still confronted by the devastation caused by the Second World War, the government unleashed an anti-semitic campaign to force its Jewish population out of the country. At the time, most Jews were totally assimilated into Polish society, having all but hidden their Jewish identity following the Holocaust. During the campaign, which last from 1968 until 1971, many Jews were fired from their jobs or kicked out of school, then forced to renounce their Polish citizenship. It was largely non-violent, but affected more than 14,000 people.
Back in the US, a little known experimental filmmaker named Fred Engleberg caught wind of what was happening and flew overseas to document the event. He ended up in Copenhagen, Denmark, where many of the refugees had fled. Denmark welcomed them, granting them temporary stay in an off-season cruise ship while they figured out more permanent accommodations. Engelberg's film documented the experience as the two cultures came together, trying to figure out how to build a new home.
On this episode of Match Volume, we'll hear from the Dino Everett, archivist at the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive at USC, who restored the film. He talks about how the film was rediscovered after being lost for more than four decades and the historical significance of bringing the film back to life. Plus, he gives us a tour of the archives, which contains 85,000 reels of film and equipment spanning cinema's more than 100-year history.
We'll also hear from Arthur Alexander, who grew up in Poland and was one of the many thousands of Jews forced to leave the country in the late 1960s. He was barely 20 years old at the time and enrolled in Warsaw University, when his entire identity was uprooted and he had to start over. He ended up immigrating to the US alone, first to New York and later to Los Angeles, where he has lived ever since.