35 – Friendly Patalowski and infatuated Bulow



Mietek Patalowski was a Polish Jew and Gebhard Bulow was a Polish man of German origin. The first one was Fira’s friend, and another one was a strange officer, who having seen Fira by accident, decided to make every effort to talk to her. Despite all differences between these two men, they were alike in having no luck in love at that time.

The Patalowski family moved from Kalisz to Poznan in 1933, but Mietek’s mother had known Rachela Melamedzon, Fira’s mom, since they were small girls. Owing to this acquaintance, 18-year-old Fira spent one or two weeks in Kalisz in 1933.

In 1936 Mietek, who after one year of studying was just giving up law at the Poznan University, was a boyfriend of Madzia Einstein. Madzia came from German Jews and lived, just like Fira, in Wroniecka Street. She made Mietek crazy and  as she flirted with other men.

A story about his coming to Fira after some argument with Madzia and their meeting in the Palais de Danse, a famous restaurant in the Apollo Passage, during which Fira had been noticed by young Polish officers with Gebhard Bulow among them, is described in the book.

Fira had never met with Bulow, although she agreed on one meeting. In part 37 we tell why this meeting had never took place. Bulow was a Polish officer, and she was a Jew. Fira was sure there were no chances of a happy ending, if they two started to meet and show together in the streets. There is no picture of Gebhard in her albums. We don’t know what he looked like. However, there are documents regarding both Patalowski and Bulow in the Archives of AMU, as Bulow had been an auditor (non- matriculated student) of law at the Poznan University. We place copies of these documents below.

The following fragment of Fira’s memories tells about Arek, Mietek’s older brother, who later became a doctor. In this memory, regarding the late 1920s and the early 1930s, he is a gymnasium pupil.


I was about fourteen, when Mom took me to Krynica two weeks before the end of a school year. She went there or to other health resorts regularly. I didn’t like those places as I found them boring. Anyway, I was too small to refuse to come with her. At that time, in Krynica, we met unexpectedly Regina Patalowska from Kalisz, with her 17-year-od son, Arek. We stayed at the same hotel and our moms started to spend time together. Arek had just been expelled from the seventh class of gymnasium for smoking cigarettes. One of his teachers entered the school toilet during a lesson, and he noticed cigarette smoke floating above one of the toilet partitions. He waited silently until a smoker decided to leave the toilet, and Arek fell into his teacher’s hands. The punishment was very strict. Patalowski had been expelled from the school, and his mother decided to bring him to Kalisz to water down school and family emotions.

So, we took a rest in Krynica. During the days we went for walks, and in the evenings we sat on some square, where an orchestra played dancing music. We could listen to it, or dance. Once, Arek decided to dance with me. – If I stand up and ask you to dance, won’t you bring shame on me? – he wanted to make sure. But I was too shy to dance with a boy. – No, I won’t go dancing – I said. Mummy, however, pushed me to go. She said I knew ballroom dances very well. So, Arek, encouraged by my Mom, stood up and bowed to me. I dropped my head and didn’t go. He was very angry with me. He said I made a fool out of him and he couldn’t forgive me that for a long time.

It seems to me that Arek was allowed to come back to his school after holidays, owing to his parents’ efforts. Yet he had to pass the whole material of the seventh class.