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Polish-jewish Actor, Member of Kaminska Troupe, Defects; Protests Warsaw Anti-semitism

January 2, 1968
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The youngest member of Ida Kaminska’s Jewish State Theater of Poland, which recently completed a successful tour of the United States, is seeking political asylum here after defecting because he does not want to live in a country where his relatives were murdered and where he is treated as a second-class citizen.

Henryk Grynberg, 31, gave these reasons at a press conference, for not returning to Poland with the Yiddish troupe when it left New York December 19 after an eight-week engagement. Grynberg and his non-Jewish wife, the Polish actress Krystyna Walczak, are now in Beverly Hills, Calif., where they are staying with Grynberg’s mother, Mrs. Sophie Towarzek, who immigrated to the United States eight years ago. He said that he planned to report to U.S. immigration officials promptly.

The young actor said that his father, his younger brother, two uncles and five aunts were slaughtered by the Nazis in Poland during World War II. He and his mother survived by hiding in the forests. His visit to the United States was his fifth trip abroad with the Kaminska troupe since he joined it in 1959. He had always returned to Poland from the previous trips and said that he would have done so now, had he not been a Jew, in order to fight with other intellectuals against the repression’s of the Communist regime. But, if you are labeled a Jew, he said, it is difficult to do anything in Poland.

Mr. Grynberg told of the anti-Zionist campaign with overtones of anti-Semitism launched by the Polish Government after last June’s Arab-Israel war and of how Polish authorities censored articles and stories he had written about Israel and Jewish life in Poland, and warned him not to depict Israelis as heroes.

Mr. Grynberg said that, since last June, anti-Semitism has grown in Poland. He also said that Polish newspapers and periodicals Frequently quote “pseudo scientists” who try to show cases in which Jews brought about their own extermination by the Nazis. He said he hadn’t spoken out until now because he didn’t want to harm the Kaminska troupe.

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