A quarter of a million Poles
work in the Netherlands. They’re away from home months on end.
They miss their town, village, and family. Daddy.
– Hey, buddy. It’s dark in the house. What?
– It’s so dark. Do you miss me? Of course I miss you.
You’re always abroad. Are you all from Poland? And you’re picking apples in Holland? Poles do everything, don’t they?
And they’re everywhere. But the Dutch don’t know them. In our hearts, we’re in Poland. You’re in Holland
but your heart is in Poland? Yes, Poland is my home base. That’s how I see it anyway. So after a while,
Poles want to go back home. Always back home. My name is Dore. I’m half-Polish. When I was born, the wall fell… …the borders were lifted
and Europe was embraced. The free West
settled in the people’s minds. Now it’s as if the country is pulling back. Poland is more religious
and nationalistic than ever. I’m curious about what happened
and return to my native country. episode 1
my Polish home Poland recently celebrated its hundredth
anniversary with flags and torches. Do you find this scary? No, I don’t. I wouldn’t
want to be down there, but… I’m more afraid of the government. It’s trying to dismantle
the Polish democracy. But I’m not quite sure
how to explain this either. This is their revolt. Against the unknown. Against all form of oppression.
Against people who are better off. I don’t fully understand it either. Here at my friends’ place in Warsaw
I see for the first time… …how much Poland
has changed over the years. And like them, I don’t understand
how it happened. Poland is pulling away from Europe,
and is crying its own slogans. God, honour and fatherland. But this is not my Poland. Where I come from,
the summers were always warm. We played outside in the forest… …ate apples all the time
while grandma baked cakes. Communism was over… …and Poland was looking forward
to a new era. Now, people are free
to travel wherever they want. They can go abroad, take the night train. All across Poland, dreaming softly
under the white sheets… …in a tiny bed, in a tiny carriage. Come in. Good evening.
– Would you like coffee or tea tomorrow? Tea, please. With lemon?
– Yes, please. Very well. When I was young we always
went to Poland by bus. My mother, brother and me. My mother, who felt stifled in Poland,
moved to Holland. And because she left
we had to go back every summer. To the cottage my grandfather built
with love and patience, layer by layer. My grandmother missed her daughter,
and mum was never free from Poland. This cottage is my anchor,
this is where my Polish half lies. Good afternoon. Do you sell deodorant
and can I have a Polish paper? And do you sell candles? Thanks. Since my mother died
I’ve been coming back less. I’m going to sell the house. My journey begins here. Before I leave, I pick up the last things. As always, the neighbour awaits me. I’ve sprinkled some salt. You look lovely.
– Do I? Well, so do you. How do you feel?
– I’ve been worse. Have you been inside yet?
– Not today. I haven’t been inside yet. I’d like to sleep here tonight. You’ll freeze to death. I can turn on this radiator.
– That will heat up the room. But what if you need to go into the hall? I have thick socks, warm blankets
and a warm coat. What if you need to go that way? There’s no water
and I’m only staying one night. I thought it would be nice
to sleep here one last time. The house will be sold in a week. Will you be back in a week then?
– No. We’re selling it on the internet.
That’s why this is my last chance. It’s up to you. It’s your decision.
– But what would you do? I wouldn’t do it.
It’s going to be minus ten tonight. Hang on. It’s getting warm. We need to unfold them.
They’re still cold. The covers are clean. Thank you, Ania. This home is family. But this home is also me. Because I grew up
here to a large extent… …by being here all the time. Living in that family vacuum. And at the same time,
what is family? Family has many faces. Family is love, sometimes hate,
it’s our anger. Pain, sorrow, happiness.
It’s all captured in this house. When I touch the walls,
I feel 32 years shoot past. Now it’s empty, everyone is dead,
and I’m the last one left here. And I’m leaving it behind cold. My family is from Oswiecim. It’s the darkest town in Poland
because Oswiecim is Auschwitz. Here you are. Except in Oswiecim
nobody talks about Auschwitz. Neither did my grandparents. They wanted to build a new
and better life after the war. They worked in brand new factories
of the communist utopia. But they were actually
the old Nazi factories. Zofia, who knew my grandparents… …was a child when the Germans
invaded Oswiecim. I just ordered a taxi
but I gave the wrong address. It’s 17 Budowlana 17, not 7. My apologies. Is it far?
– Not if we take a taxi. It’s Garbarska Street, right?
– Yes, please. I saw a German soldier
come into our house. He called: Heraus, heraus.
So we had to leave the house. You had to leave everything behind. This is where they kept human hair.
I remember peeking in. The whole factory just processed hair.
– Human hair? The rumour was that the Germans
used the hair to stuff mattresses. What did you know about Auschwitz?
Did you learn about it at school? I remember that the whole school
went to an exploded crematory. To clear up the rubble. That’s a bit strange, isn’t it? That’s how it was in those days.
The whole school joined in. It wasn’t because we needed to. But if you found a jaw in the rubble… We found all sorts of things.
– Did you find bones too? Yes, bones too. We were terrified. It was like walking around
with dangerous animals everywhere. That’s what we were told
the Germans were. We were convinced that
all Germans were out to kill us. I still feel as though they hate us. There are some German supermarket
chains here in Oswiecim. Aldi, Lidl.
– Ja. Kaufland. I’m still convinced
that they look down on us. That they see us the way
we see Russians and Ukrainians. As if we’re a primitive nation
who are unable… …to manage our own country. I resent history for the fact
that this took place here. I think many people in Oswiecim
feel that way. They prefer to forget about its history. But the camp is in the middle of town… …and is one of the biggest tourist
attractions in Poland. For my mother it was painful. Her kindergarten turned out to be
a former camp building. Her lovely holidays in the mountains
were spent in SS holiday homes. The hardest part for my mother… …was that everything
was tainted by the war. Everything had been built
by prisoners of war. It was like suddenly
the floor under her past caved in… …where everything fell apart,
and it was all World War II. I think that was hardest for her,
and the fact that nobody talked about it. That people from her town
weren’t curious… …about that truth,
that everyone just ignored it. If you live here,
you don’t dig into the past. You try to find a way… …in between all those war tracks. The buildings that were built
in the war were needed. If you were born here after the war
or came here after it… …you tried to associate Auschwitz
with the camp, and not with Oswiecim. That’s how they felt about it. The other day my cousin said: I only
talk about the war when you’re here. Sometimes I think not talking
is a Polish thing. Poles look to the future
to get away from their daily lives. They work all over the world so they can
build a home in Poland in the future. Tomorrow is far more important
than yesterday. It’s the same way for my uncle. He made a lot of money in greenhouses
in the Netherlands… …and now has his own nursery
in Oswiecim. Hi, I’m back.
– Welcome. Did you hitchhike again?
– Sure. How was your holiday?
– Wonderful, as usual. I want to show you a new project
we’re working on. That’s why it’s a bit messy here. Every time I come
something has changed. I had many jobs in Holland. I painted windows, fixed up houses. I built construction trailers
and ‘sheds’ as we called them. I worked ten to twelve hours a day,
preferably seven days a week. I was a qualified engineer
but I did relatively simple work. And I still earned more than
an engineer in Poland. I remember working
for a Dutch grower once. All the workers were on a break,
many came from Poland. Most of them worked illegally. Then the
boss asked us what training we’d done. I was a civil engineer,
there was a doctor, a lawyer. He said: ‘Then I must have the highest
qualified tomato pickers in Berkel. ‘ The Dutch guy said that?
– Yes. Last year we hired some
foreigners for the first time. We were really short-staffed. We hired ten Ukrainians
and three Nepalese. We had to.
– And they live in Oswiecim too? They lived in Oswiecim too
and were very happy here. There’s a big difference in wages
between Nepal and Poland. It was the same when I went to Holland. I have respect for them,
for everyone who works here. Because I was in their shoes once. Actually I have respect
for everyone who works hard. They’re doing the same as I was,
so I can relate to them. If you want to see how much has
changed you should go to the museum. I remember it.
– Yes, but there’s a story behind it. A German farmer started building it. A German farmer? When?
– During World War II. Did my mother know these greenhouses
were built in the war? No, and neither did I,
until I started my company here. We didn’t used to care
about those details anyway. We’d heard more than enough about it. I think she found out later on. Shall I pass the meat? I prefer meat to salad. You normally like this salad though. Going to Poland was
always an adventure for us. It was a real adventure for me,
spending the holiday in Porabka. So I’m sad we sold the house. And that everything will be different now. It will be, but you can always visit us. And you can always go back to Porabka,
to the hills. That will never change. Don’t cry, sweetie.
– I know. Don’t cry. Really, don’t cry.
– I don’t want to cry. But it’s hard for many reasons. I want to come and see you,
but it’s not that easy. Whenever you send us a message… …about what you’re doing,
we always read it out loud. If I don’t hear from you
I ask Ewa if she has. Or I ask Ania and Jurek: ‘Have you
heard from Dore? How is she?’ That won’t change. Some sad things go away,
but the rest stays. It just feels strange… …that my relationship
with Poland will change. Once the house is sold
you can’t go in anymore. I’ll take a few photos. There’s nothing else here. I can’t take much now anyway. I’ll take some photos, maybe the table
and the desk upstairs. I can leave those with you for now.
I’ll just have another look. We’ll have to drive two or three times. Shall we go up again?
– Yes, let’s. Last winter, when I was in our
family home for the last time… …I found a binder with photos
and papers of my grandfather’s. Remainders of a life
I know very little about. I talked to some people and found out
Zofia, my grandparents’ friend… …had a special connection
with my grandad. Mrs Manka? It’s me, Dore. These are some old things of grandad’s. A few documents. I don’t know if they look familiar to you.
Some old reports. I came across a woman by coincidence.
How do you say that in Polish? Przez przypadek.
– Yes. That was strange and difficult,
I didn’t know how to react. But I think her and grandad had an affair. When did she say that? Just recently. She’s 83 or 84, very old. Where is she from?
– From Oswiecim. Zofia Manka. Manka? I don’t know anyone
by that name here. I have no idea.
The name doesn’t ring a bell. I don’t really care anyway.
– It doesn’t matter anyway. We shouldn’t really talk about it.
– It’s hard, isn’t it? It doesn’t exist for me,
so why talk about it? Grandad isn’t here anymore.
And neither is grandma. Traces from the past:
my mother was fascinated by them. But most Poles don’t like to talk about
‘unfortunate events in the past’. If it’s about Auschwitz, I understand
Because we were in Holland… …far way from the former death camp,
while they lived at the heart of it. Among the remains of the Holocaust. Hello, Mrs Manka. Hello darling. You’re so beautiful. How are you?
– I’m poorly as you can see. My legs are getting worse. Do they hurt?
– Yes, they do. Do you feel worse than last time?
You weren’t as bad then. I have good days and bad days. Today of all days is a bad day. It was an affair. What did it mean to you?
What kind of love was it? I wouldn’t call it love. It was more like a physical desire. It was like a craving. Like for this. Chocolate?
– Yes, exactly. Like chocolate. I just have my memories.
No mementos, photos, nothing. He had a broad, square face. Was my grandfather good in bed? I don’t know how to say that in Polish.
– You said it right. He was very good.
– Really? Otherwise they would have
been five very long years. He was very good.
– How come? He obviously matched
my temperament very well. I wanted to make love to him
and it felt good. And it was nice
that it was a regular thing. He was very passionate.
– Yes, very. I don’t know why,
but it’s kind of nice to hear. I hope for you that you are
as passionate as he was. Because that’s
what makes people happy. No matter what people say,
when two people have good sex… …and fulfill each other’s
intellectual needs as well… …I think that’s very important. Do you ever miss him? Or think about him?
– No. Because I’m ashamed of it. It’s like I’ve hurt someone.
That doesn’t feel good. I said it was stronger than me,
as an excuse. Because I’m religious. It went against my religion, the people
around me, my children and his children. My grandmother never talked
about my grandfather’s affairs. She went to church,
talked about her life there… …and prayed to God at night,
kneeled down in her pink nightdress. The Catholic church had an iron grip
in the communist era as well. And they still do. At the 100th anniversary celebrations
soldiers and nuns stand side by side… …to celebrate our fatherland. The youth were saying
how important Poland is to them. And that patriotism is growing
among the younger generation. That there is hope for the future,
to carry on. Poles are patriotic.
They like traditions, rituals, fancy words. We honour all our compatriots
who fulfilled their patriotic duty… …by offering the biggest imaginable
sacrifice. Their graves that are dotted
around the world… …form our independence and identity. Line up. Maybe me and my family
were living in a bubble. I don’t know this other side of Poland. Since the right-wing government PiS
came to power in 2015, much changed. PiS embodies the vision
of the almighty Polish Catholic church. It’s reflected everywhere. My family is very worried. My aunt doesn’t trust the police,
my uncle says PiS is polarizing society. Men versus women,
the city versus the country. It’s quite scary. I was thinking about it the other day. I remember when Orbán
came to power in Hungary. I didn’t get that at all. It was like
the Hungarians had lost their minds. They had become so nationalistic
and right-wing. I even found it hard
to sympathise with them. But now I understand
and I feel bad about that. Because the same is happening here.
Our nation is becoming divided too. It wasn’t like that until recently. When Poland entered the EU
we all celebrated. Here and in other cities people
sang the anthem of Europe. I joined, with my friends. Now I’m not sure I would, because
I’d worry about people’s reactions. The police just looks up at the birds
in the sky, they’re completely oblivious. The insults…
– What are they oblivious of? The insults are really beginning now. I have friends who agree with us… …but don’t say anything at work
for fear of being fired. Do you talk about it openly at work?
– We don’t really talk about it. Politics at work? No way. I have a few employees
who support PiS. A few. But I won’t allow political discussions. I don’t want it
to ruin the atmosphere. After all, someone with a different
opinion might still be a good worker. And that’s how I see them. I don’t want politics
to disrupt that relationship. My uncle doesn’t want
any political talk at the nursery… …to avoid conflict during work. But an increasing number of Poles
have been voicing their opinions. Adam lives in Krakow,
70 kms from our family home. He rents out his sofa bed to tourists. Do you have a sleeping bag for me?
– Yes. You have one?
– Yes, I do. Adam is 20, very religious and member
of a nationalist youth movement. Tonight he’s going to celebrate
Poland’s 100th anniversary. The Death of Europe. This is some heavy reading.
Holocaust. It’s not about that holocaust. It’s about the holocaust
of the Catholic church in the East. Because the communists killed priests. You’re only 20 but you’re very serious.
– No, not really. You have to be serious
in important times. But I do have fun too.
– Really? When? At the right moment. This is Henryk Sienkiewicz.
People still read his work. And they always will. If you think of Polish culture,
you think of Henryk Sienkiewicz. What does my Polish
identity mean to me? It’s not something
you can just switch on or off. Hang it on the rack.
– It will drip onto the floor. Doesn’t matter. Let it drip on the foil. Go and stand over here. That’s it. I’m going to bed now.
– Right, then I’ll go to my room. I’ll see you tomorrow.
– Yes. At…? Don’t worry, I’ll wake you up.
– Thank you. Good night. Sweet dreams. Yes, good night.
– Is that not what you say? Yes, good night. What is your dream for the future? The future? I hope that in 40 years’ time… …all Poles will respect the
Catholic traditions of our country. That abortion is not
up for discussion anymore. Because it’s wrong. I don’t want to create
an unrealistic impression. We just want to spread
the Catholic values. They’re very basic
and good for everyone. What will this country be like to live in? You will be able to have a normal life. But if we allow mass immigration
of other cultures… …it will change our culture. This is my rosary. Do you always carry it with you?
– Yes. The history of the rosary in Europe
started in 1571. The Holy League stopped an invasion
of the Ottoman Empire. The Pope instructed the soldiers
to pray with the rosary. They did that and they won. We pray and fight the same way,
and hopefully we’ll win too. We will win. This is Piotrek’s first time.
– Really? He’s only twelve years old. Why do you feel it’s important
to bring him? He needs to know
where he lives and who he is. I need to show him
what opinions to have. What is important for a Pole? To fight for Poland
and protect it from other countries. Hello, Polish Youth.
– Hello. This is a special march. The 100th anniversary
of our independence. Everyone, so they can all hear us: Youth.
– Polish youth. When I was born Poland embraced
liberalism and democracy. In no time, Poland was turned
into a modern country. Sometimes I think
the changes came too sudden. The right-wing, nationalist Polish youth
party has gathered in Warsaw today. They want to be part of Europe,
but believe the price is too high. They would much prefer to be Polish. But what is Polish? This is not the Poland I remember. With buzzing bees and green gardens
and lovely grandmothers. God, honour and fatherland. I will miss you.
– Don’t say that, or I’ll cry. I’m finding it very hard
to be here for the last time. If you come back to Poland, let us know. Stay in touch now and then, anyhow. I didn’t want to sell the house,
but in the end… But Dore, a house needs maintenance. You can see what’s happening.
It’s falling apart. Taxes, all those bills. If you’re only here a few days a year… Can you help me? You see what happens. You know what it used to be like
and the state it’s in now. Yes, I know. The gate. Remember when
that machine drove through it? Yes, all the trees were broken.
– They repaired it to some extent. Do you promise to look after the house
when I’m not here? Of course.
– Will you? I will…
– Will you keep an eye on it? When they come I will check
everything is locked. It snowed a bit last night, but not much. I need to find my keys.
– That’s normal. I’m always losing them.
Thank you, Ania. Hang in there.
– You too. You’re a tough one. Don’t cry, Ania.
– But I’m so fond of you. Whenever you came, I’d always worry
when you went off on your own. Thank you for everything.
– Now there will be strangers here. I’m sure they’re nice too.
They have a child. Yes, I’ve seen the girl. New people, with new jokes. I don’t know.
– Goodbye. Goodbye, Dore. Bye, sweet neighbour
Bye, lovely home. I’m going to travel across my country
for a year, and find out how it’s doing. I will write to you, from the capital
and the tiny villages. Into Poland. Moja Polska!