The Shmooze

Neo-Nazi Couple Embraces Jewish Roots

By Abigail Jones

  • Print
  • Share Share

This is not your typical childhood romance. Ola and Pawel, both 33, met when they were 12 years old and were deeply entrenched in Poland’s neo-Nazi scene when they married six years later. Then Ola made a shocking discovery: She and Pawel had Jewish roots.

“I didn’t expect to find out that I had a Jewish husband,” she said in a documentary on CNN International’s World’s Untold Stories. “I didn’t know how to tell him. I loved him even if he was a punk or skinhead, if he beat people up or not. It was a time in Poland when this movement was very intense.”

Anti-semitism flourished in Poland in the 1980s, when Pawel and Ola came of age. But after Ola dug through documents at the Jewish Historical Institute, she uncovered the news that forever altered their white supremacist mentality.

“It is difficult to describe how I felt when I found out I was Jewish,” Pawel told CNN. “My first thought was, ‘What am I going to tell people? What am I going to tell the boys? Should I admit it or not?’”

Ultimately he did admit it, with the help of Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich. These days, Pawel and Ola are practicing Orthodox Jews and active members of Warsaw’s Jewish community. Pawel is studying to work in a kosher slaughterhouse and Ola works in the synagogue’s kitchen as a kosher supervisor.

“I feel sorry for those that I beat up,” Pawl told CNN, “but I don’t hold a grudge against myself. The people who I hurt can hold a grudge against me.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Pawel, Poland, Michael Schudrich, Ola, CNN International World Untold Stories, Anti-semitism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.