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Curse of the Survivor

Singer Vera Gran was haunted by allegations of Nazi collaboration. A new book asks if survival made her guilty.

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Vera Gran. (Courtesy of Agata Tuszynska)
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In 1930s Warsaw, a young beauty named Vera Gran made a name for herself as a seductive and charming cabaret singer with a voice fans likened to Edith Piaf’s and Marlene Dietrich’s. Gran (born Grynberg) was, along with her mother and sisters and thousands of other Jews, forced to live inside the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. During her time in the ghetto, she continued performing until she managed, with the help of her Polish husband, to escape its confines and go into hiding in 1942. Her family perished.

As devastating as that loss was, Gran’s nightmare took a harrowing new turn after the war, when she was suddenly accused by other survivors—including her accompanist, the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman—of having collaborated with the Gestapo. Her story captivated the Polish writer Agata Tuszyńska, who was born after the war but whose own mother and grandmother struggled to survive in the Warsaw Ghetto and who feels still the effects of that confinement in her own life. Tuszyńska, in New York as part of the PEN World Voices Festival, made Gran’s acquaintance in Paris, when Gran was old and bitter and ever suspicious. Tuszyńska’s new book is Vera Gran: The Accused, and she talks with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about how she convinced the paranoid old woman to talk to her, about the nature of the accusations made against Gran, and about the slow process of discovery that has followed from Tuszyńska’s learning, at age 19, that her mother was a Jew. [Running time: 33:38.] 

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Natan79 says:

I don’t like Soros, but you are an idiot and a defamer.

    PhillipNagle says:

    The fact that you are unaware that George Soros was a Nazi collaberater merelymakes you uninformed. The fact that would reply to negatively to that fact makes you stupid. The fact that you would use the term idiot toward someone of which you know nothing makes you a defamer.

      Natan79 says:

      I was wrong saying you are an idiot, I forgot to say you are deeply evil. May what happened to Soros during the Holocaust happen to you personally. We had pieces of shit like yourself in Israel, where they were busy defaming the survivors. You are the name of evil.

        Wow, you guys are kind of replicating the very inter-Jewish spats that we saw in post-war Poland, as discussed in this podcast…

          Isabella Adamowicz says:

          What do you mean by Jewish spats? There were those who really collaborated. Of course they did it with the gun at their heads, and it is hard for us to judge them, wewere not in their shoes. Those who were there, and did not collaborate- they are the ones, who have the right to judge. It is not for you to to dismiss it as just a Jewish spat. How dare you!

        PhillipNagle says:

        Since you can’t defend George SAoros, a truly evil man and enemy of Israel, you descend into name calling. Thank you! That sort of response reinforces what I originally said.

          mcmarry says:

          That Georg Soros is quite an overachiever! Born in 1930, he would have started collaborating with Nazis perhaps as early as 7-8-years old!
          Honestly, as necessary as the existence of Israel may be, the Israeli government is as guilty of crimes of oppression as any other government–including the U.S.–when they can get away with it. The Israeli government must be held up to criticism without those who do having to fear being called Nazi collaborators. Crushing dissent is a fascist tactic, Mr. Nagle, by any other name.

          Isabella Adamowicz says:

          You are ignorant. Jews were not deported from Germany till 1944, when Germans occupied Hungary. It makes him 14. He managed to get Aryan papers. In his biography he himself stated that he was going around with the police to take over the Jewish property, using his personal knowledge. He admitted it, for you saying that Israeli government is defaming him is a defamation in itself, that is a faschist tactic me Israel hater.

I listened so intently! But what did Vera do outside the ghetto for three plus years? What did her husband do? We may never know, but it is important to try to find out. Thank you Agata!

Rosa says:

Wladyslaw Szpilman never accused Vera Gran of anything: he was simply a witness in the court – which is a fact even Tuszynska states in her book! The Accused contains a smorgasbord of libelous accusations against Wladyslaw Szpilman with no evidence to support them, repeated by a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, hence why the book is now under litigation in three countries, including in Germany, where the Kindle version has now disappeared and future copies of the book will be blacked.


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Curse of the Survivor

Singer Vera Gran was haunted by allegations of Nazi collaboration. A new book asks if survival made her guilty.

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