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Letter from Molly Picon to her Mother, August 23, 1946

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About this Letter

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Historical Background

Discussion Questions

Level: Middle School and above


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More of this TYPE: Letter

More of this TIME PERIOD: 1900-1949

More on these TOPICS: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Recreation, Jewish Values & Practice


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

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The close of World War II brought an end to Hitler’s regime, but it did not fully eliminate the chaos and danger European Jews faced. The war had created upheaval everywhere, and Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe in 1945 prolonged the dislocation wrought by the earlier fighting and German occupation. Politically and economically devastated areas remained breeding grounds for anti-Semitism. As they had done under the Nazi regime, many Europeans still held Jews accountable for their problems.

Many Jews, unable to return to their homes, were put in camps for displaced persons, to which American relief agencies sent money, health care, and volunteers. In this letter to her mother, Yiddish film and stage star Molly Picon describes her experiences performing at some of these camps in postwar Poland. The refugees lived in horrid conditions, and Picon took pride in the relief her entertainment provided. She drew on her Jewish heritage and the principle of tikkun olam, repairing the world, in her efforts.

For more on Picon’s experiences in Europe, go to JWA’s Women of Valor exhibit.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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1. Why was Molly Picon’s mother worried about her daughter going to Poland?

2. Why did Picon and her husband travel to Poland despite their own concerns?

3. What were conditions like in the camps for displaced persons?

4. Why do you think Picon and her husband were so well received?

5. What Jewish values do you see illustrated in Picon’s efforts as she describes them?


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How to Cite This Page
Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Letters - Correspondence About Postwar Conditions in Europe." <http://jwa.org/primarysources/letters_04.html>.