This article examines the lesser-known chapter in the life of the Polish poet and writer of Jewish origin Julian Tuwim during World War II. With the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, and after suffering in prewar ethnocentric and anti-Semitic Poland, Tuwim fled to Romania, where he tried, in vain, to obtain a visa for the British Mandatory Palestine, without having any Zionist affinity. This attempt was based on friendly relations with Leib Jaffe, the director of the Zionist National Fund in Poland. Tuwim’s attitude towards Zionism is analyzed in the context of similar attitudes of Joseph Roth and Stefan Zweig. Shortly thereafter, Tuwim came to Paris where he manifested, for the first time, anguish of exile, a feeling that didn’t leave him until the end of the war. After the German invasion of France, Tuwim fled to Portugal where he experienced a deep anguish over the refusal of an American visa, lack of money and prospects. In Lisbon, with the help of a Brazilian writer and diplomat, Tuwim obtained a visa to enter Brazil, where, with ambivalent feelings, he began his famous poem “Kwiaty polskie” [Polish flowers]. After nine months, Tuwim and his wife finally arrived in the USA where, in addition to being a writer, Tuwim became a political engagé. “We Polish Jews …” is the poem written in the shadow of the Jewish tragedy which reflects the complexity of Tuwim’s Polish-Jewish identity before and during World War II.

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