Jerzy Czarnecki was born in 1924 in the small town Welyki Mosti, in Galicia, today’s Ukraine. Because he was Jewish, Jerzy had to flee more than once during his life. He lived in Switzerland from 1972 on but did not forget where he came from.
Jerzy Czarnecki, the protagonist of the film, could have contented himself with a quiet retirement after many years of work as a nuclear technologist for the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. But he is driven to act: he has unique memories and feels a pressing obligation to share them. Starting with a journey to Mosty Wielkie/Welyki Mosti, the little Polish (and today Ukrainian) town where he spent his youth and which he had to leave in 1942, the film tracks the key places and events in Jerzy's life. These include his flight from the Nazis in the Second World War, forced labor in Germany, starting a new life in Poland after the war and finally – caused by a resurge of open antisemitism in Poland beginning in 1967 – emigration to Switzerland in 1972. Jerzy's is a long road, paved with tragic and dramatic experiences - from life in a small Galician town to Windisch, another small place in the Swiss canton of Aargau.
In 2007 the production of the film “From Galicia to Aargau” was completed. Shortly thereafter, the protagonist, Jerzy Czarnecki, donated a memorial to remember the Jewish people of Welyki Mosti who had been murdered there or sent to the extermination camps under the Nazi rule. (Jerzy spent the first 17 years of his life in Welyki Mosti before escaping Nazi terror.) The memorial site was placed in the forest where people were killed after having been forced to dig their own graves; the sad event is described by Jerzy in the existing film. At the opening ceremony for the memorial site, representatives of the city’s government and of the churches as well as other inhabitants of the town took part. Jerzy died in December 2008 at the age of 84. In March 2011, the memorial was vandalized; it is not known who done it and the Epilogue documents how the people of Welyki Mosti deal with the matter.
The Embassy of Switzerland presented this movie in the framework of the Babi Yar commemorations.
After the screening there was a podium discussion moderated by Anatoliy Podolsky, Director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, with the following participants:
Mr. Peter SCHEINER, director of the documentary film
Mr. Roman KOZORIZ, protagonist of the documentary film
Mr. Yaroslav ROYKO, mayor of the city of Welyki Mosti
Mr. Simon GEISSBÜHLER, Swiss Diplomat, political analyst and historian
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