28 – Reading the photographs, Wednesday, June 23, 1938



Fira Melamedzon doesn’t remember much of the trip on Wednesday, June 23, 1938. It was summer, the  students probably decided to go for a farewell walk around their favourite places, just before the end of an academic year. Fira was with her three friends there, Adek Lewin, Adek Engel and Boria Szapiro. Jozio Lustyk had been out of Poznan for almost a year.

They went along the Garbary Dam (today a part of Garbary Street) to the Municipal Slaughtery area, and then along the Warta river by the Chwaliszewski bridge. Next, they visited Adek Lewin at Wielka Street 19. We publish here several photographs of that trip. The most beautiful and interested ones can be found in the book.

Many photographs from Fira’s albums, although amateur, badly framed, unclear or overexposed, impress with its atmosphere, the body language of presented people, a variety of background and the context of situation. The caught events and moments complement a story of the Poznan Jews living on the eve of the war, which Fira tells in the book. It is good not only look at these photos but also read them. There are surprises and mysteries hidden in the details. They are worth noticing and understanding  how important they are and what they say. There are plenty of such meaningful details in the photographs taken on June 23, 1938, especially those published in the book. For example, there are three students standing in the Garbary Dam (today Garbary Street). They are smiling impishly, merrily tilting their heads. Everyone is holding something in his hands. Adek Engel has white, thin gloves of Fira. Boria holds her summer hat, and Adek Lewin has her handbag. Three hopeless suitors. In another picture, in the same street, they are sitting on the barrier around the square in front of the Municipal Slaughtery. Boria is correcting his tie, and a tiny tram starting at the loop is seen in the background. This tram can surprise today Poznan people, as there has been no tram line here for a long time.

In the next photo, Fira is sitting on a wooden barrier separating Ewangelicka Street from the Warta river (this part of the river is buried today), and the Chwaliszewski bridge is seen behind her. She is keeping her hand on Adek Lewin’s arm and looking aside. Smiling Adek is showing some white sheet of paper. What is it written on it? It looks like „…ilki”. You must think a lot to read the whole caption and understand its meaning. Adek is showing „Szpilki” („Pins”), a copy of a satirical newspaper, which had been published since December 1935. They must have been reading it during this trip, enjoying its jokes.

Also, there are many interesting things happening in the photographs presented below. Adek Engel is standing in front of the Municipal Slaughtery, holding binoculars in his hand.

Where does he get it from and what is he looking at? In another picture, both Adeks are standing arm in arm like old fellows. Adek Engel is wearing a black armband on his left arm, which is a symbol of mourning. His mother died recently. In the next picture Adek Lewin is without a tie, in an unbuttoned shirt, and with his jacket thrown round his shoulders. Men were not allowed to be in a shirt in public places at that time, unless they were on holidays. This June day must have been very warm, maybe even hot, so Adek compromised without breaking the rules of common decency.