Glenn Kurtz is the author of Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music and the host of Conversations on Practice, a series of public conversations about writing held at McNally Jackson Books in New York. He holds a PhD from Stanford University.
The author’s search for the annihilated Polish community captured in his grandfather’s 1938 home movie
Traveling in Europe in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of World War II, David Kurtz, the author’s grandfather, captured three minutes of ordinary life in a small, predominantly Jewish town in Poland on 16 mm Kodachrome color film. More than seventy years later, through the brutal twists of history, these few minutes of home-movie footage would become a memorial to an entire community—an entire culture—that was annihilated in the Holocaust.
Three Minutes in Poland traces Glenn Kurtz’s remarkable four-year journey to identify the people in his grandfather’s haunting images. His search takes him across the United States; to Canada, England, Poland, and Israel; to archives, film preservation laboratories, and an abandoned Luftwaffe airfield. Ultimately, Kurtz locates seven living survivors from this lost town, including an eighty-six-year-old man who appears in the film as a thirteen-year-old boy.
Painstakingly assembled from interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts, Three Minutes in Poland tells the rich, funny, harrowing, and surprisingly intertwined stories of these seven survivors and their Polish hometown. Originally a travel souvenir, David Kurtz’s home movie became the sole remaining record of a vibrant town on the brink of catastrophe. From this brief film, Glenn Kurtz creates a riveting exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival—a monument to a lost world.