Stanisław Lem - Forum

English => Hyde Park => Wątek zaczęty przez: Pekka w Marzec 30, 2006, 08:48:53 pm

Tytuł: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Pekka w Marzec 30, 2006, 08:48:53 pm
"Born in 1921 in Lwów, Poland, Lem was a curious child, the type of boy who played with his toys by dissecting them. As a teenager, he was inspired by the classic works of H. G. Wells, who used science fiction as a means of social criticism.

Lem, whose family was of Jewish ancestry, survived the Nazi occupation by a combination of luck and deceit. He worked under a false identity as a welder in a German-owned firm that recycled raw materials, a position that gave him a chance to pass materials to the Polish resistance. When his cover was blown, he went into hiding, resurfacing when the Red army arrived in 1944. After the war, Lem studied medicine but declined to finish his degree, since doctors were prime candidates for the postwar draft. Instead, he turned to science, taking a position at Konwersatorium Naukoznawcze, a Krakow-based research institute. That decision set the wheels of his bumpy career in motion."
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.12/solaris.html

Weird...is this true? Of course a man´s ancestry is not important, his works are, but I always thought that Dr. Lem was Polish. The main reason to ask is that I am planning to write about him and would like to be so accurate as possible.

greetings, Pekka
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Marzec 30, 2006, 11:39:49 pm
It was once said that there's something about Lem having Jewish ancestry in the High Castle (Wysoki Zamek), Lem's autobiography concernigh his youth.
But I cannot find it (I mean I have the book and I've checked it for it but haven't found anything. I guess I should try searching once more sometime):)
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Metalist w Marzec 30, 2006, 11:55:32 pm
I think Lem was half Jewish from his father's side. It seems to me that some characters in the Hospital of Transfiguration were influenced by Lem's Jewish heritage.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Pekka w Marzec 31, 2006, 12:20:22 am
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I think Lem was half Jewish from his father's side. It seems to me that some characters in the Hospital of Transfiguration were influenced by Lem's Jewish heritage.


At least in the movie there is a female jewish physician who has fled Germany ("J" in German passport).

Know a Polish lady who is married to a Finn. Her mother is Jewish and father Polish. She was still a child during the war and has told me that a German soldier pointed a Luger at her when wanting information about the whereabouts of her mother, who was hiding. She was not harassed after that so probably half-Jewish people were not transferred to Ghettos, but how could Lem´s father survive, if he was Jewish? Just curious...Pekka
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Metalist w Marzec 31, 2006, 07:07:22 am
I've read a couple of biographies (incuding the one on this site, I believe) that mentioned that Lem had to set up a false identity and play a game of deception with the Nazis for a while. I've heard of similar stories, infact my grandmother had to do the same during the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine. I would speculate that his father (if indeed he was Jewish) would have done the same. Those doctors are pretty smart. ;)
I'm pretty sure that eventually the Nazis started sending people to the ghettos that weren't 100% Jewish. As you know, their "investigational tactics" in the matter were rather "crude".
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: wetal w Marzec 31, 2006, 10:37:53 am
  Started to seek for jewish roots.Check your own,and you`ll find some relative who lives in Israel.Most of jews whom I know are unbearable but clever and intelligent people.
 A.Einstein was a jew too,and I cannot understand what`s wrong if you belong to this national group.
 If someone shares rasist views or has a certain complexes simply say :'' you know I don`t actually like them as they are what they are''.
 I don`t think that this topic is fitting to the ocassion.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Marzec 31, 2006, 01:21:34 pm
Haha, it's funny because we've had the same sort of "misunderstanding" in the Polish section, wetal.
It's nothing wrong about Pekka asking for Lem's roots,  notice that he hasn't said that it implies anything. He is just curious.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Pekka w Marzec 31, 2006, 10:01:51 pm
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Haha, it's funny because we've had the same sort of "misunderstanding" in the Polish section, wetal.
It's nothing wrong about Pekka asking for Lem's roots,  notice that he hasn't said that it implies anything. He is just curious.


Thank you, Terminus. Here is another piece of information from the web:  
Stanislaw Lem was born in 1921 in Lvov, Poland, to a family of the professional class; both his father and uncle were doctors. As a young man Lem planned to become a doctor himself, enrolling at the Lvov Medical Institute. When the Institute closed due to the war in 1941, he became a mechanic and welder for a German corporation. During the lean war years Lem, who was himself of Jewish ancestry, escaped a number of close calls as Jewish acquaintances disappeared around him. On at least one occasion, he was nearly arrested sneaking out supplies from his workplace for the Polish Resistance.
http://www.themodernword.com/scriptorium/lem.html

And Washington Post writes:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/27/AR2006032701571.html

During World War II, his secular Jewish family struggled to stay together and survive. The family forged identification papers to avoid internment in the Jewish ghetto.

So friends, if I write about Lem, which one is the most appropriate expression -

to call Lem Polish, or Polish-Jewish?

Maybe I am so obsessive about a correct definition because in Finland you call people Finns or Finnish-Swedes depending on the native tongue. Swedes is reserved for Swedes in Sweden. Usually, but not always you find out by the name. Or shoud the term jewish be reserved only practitioners of Jewish religion, because, as it has already been said, we all are mixed-up (my mother´s family originates from Sweden, but they changed language about 200 years ago so you call them Finns).

Cheers, Pekka
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Pekka w Marzec 31, 2006, 10:24:41 pm
Excuse me, one entry still: Spiegel schreibt:

ZUR PERSON
DPA
Stanislaw Lem, 84, wurde als Sohn eines jüdischen Arztes im galizischen Lwow (Lemberg) geboren. Mit einem Intelligenzquotienten von 180 soll er das intelligenteste Kind Südpolens gewesen sein. Lem studierte Medizin, Physik, Biologie, Kosmologie und Philosophie. 2004 wurde er in die Berliner Akademie der Künste aufgenommen. Zu seinen wichtigsten Büchern zählen "Sterntagebücher", "Robotermärchen", "Philosophie des Zufalls" und "Die Vergangenheit der Zukunft". Die Verfilmung seines Romans "Solaris" wurde ein Welterfolg.

Probably we can suppose that Lem´s father indeed was of Jewish ancestry?

Cheers, Pekka
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Kwiecień 01, 2006, 12:01:02 am
Well I don't speak German, however I guess it is something about Lem's father goin' on.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Pekka w Kwiecień 01, 2006, 12:46:31 am
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Excuse me, one entry still: Spiegel schreibt:

ZUR PERSON
DPA
Stanislaw Lem, 84, wurde als Sohn eines jüdischen Arztes im galizischen Lwow (Lemberg) geboren.
Cheers, Pekka


was born as a son of a Jewish physician...

Pekka :-)
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: jarutek w Kwiecień 06, 2006, 05:06:18 pm
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So friends, if I write about Lem, which one is the most appropriate expression -

to call Lem Polish, or Polish-Jewish?



I don`t know what was His kind of race of homo sapiens but as writer He was Polish writer certainly.
Cheers.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: jacekmw w Kwiecień 07, 2006, 09:43:43 am
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(...) Mit einem Intelligenzquotienten von 180 soll er das intelligenteste Kind Südpolens gewesen sein. (...)

That's an impressive IQ of 180. As well as quite an extraordinary claim that S. Lem may have been the most inteligent child born in southern Poland. I'm just wondering what sources der Spiegel came across ?
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Kwiecień 07, 2006, 11:54:25 am
Just a few days ago I read the latest issue of Tygodnik Powszechny (polish catolic newspaper or magazine) which was dedicated to Lem. Lem has been contributing to this newspaper for many years. I don't have this issue on me right now so I can't quote, but I remember that Lem was telling there that for many years he had absolutely no knowledge on his jewish ancestry. The truth was brought to light during WWII.
So he for sure had jewish predecessors. As far as I know he didn't know anything more than that. He didn't know Hebrew either. He was born Polish and stayed him to the very end.

CU
Deck
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: daffodil2006 w Kwiecień 07, 2006, 08:36:55 pm
You may find some useful information in his autobiographic novel
High castle(sorry for probable mistake in translation. In Russian it is "âűńîęčé çŕěîę").

Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Borwa w Kwiecień 11, 2006, 12:33:31 am
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As a young man Lem planned to become a doctor himself, enrolling at the Lvov Medical Institute.


Hmm, that's not quite accurate. In his conversation with Tomasz Fiałkowski Lem mentioned that he has intended to study on a university of technology but he couldn't due to his father's heritage. So with father's help he enrolled at the medical institute (alternatively he could have joined The Red Army so the choice was quite obvious).

Hope this helps.
Regards
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Kwiecień 11, 2006, 03:35:51 am
Besides, it was already in Krakow, wasn't it?
(I'm a bit messed up with it...)
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Ritch w Kwiecień 11, 2006, 07:29:53 pm
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but he couldn't due to his father's heritage


I dont understand this... Do you mean his father's own profession? (i.e. doctor)
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Borwa w Kwiecień 11, 2006, 10:49:44 pm
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I dont understand this... Do you mean his father's own profession? (i.e. doctor)


Hmm, maybe "heritage" wasn't the right word here.
It has happened shortly after the Soviet forces took over the city and because Lem's father was from the upper class such problem occured.

Cytuj
Besides, it was already in Krakow, wasn't it?
(I'm a bit messed up with it...)


In Krakow he has continued his studdies but he started them in Lwow.

Regards
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: daffodil2006 w Kwiecień 20, 2006, 04:59:28 pm
You should read his novel 'High castle'. In Russian it is "Âűńîęčé çŕěîę".
Tytuł: Lem´s Jewish ancestry is no secret
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Kagan w Maj 03, 2006, 11:18:51 am
In few words: Lem's ancestry was Polish-Jewish. His grandfather was an officer of Austro-Hungarian army, his father a rich medical practitioner in then Polish Lwow (today Lviv in Western Ukraine). Thanks to his Jewish origin, Lem got an enthusiastic review in "New York Times Book Review", a review (by a fellow Jew - Mr.  Solotaroff) that opened for him the American market, the largerst market for SF literature and made Lem one of the richest persons in (then) "communist" Poland.
Please also note, that when the Soviets entered Lwow, young Staszek Lem was alowed to study medicine, as Jews were then very strong in the Soviet Union. But when Lwow was occupied by Nazi Germany, Staszek Lem had to work as a car mechanic and welder (his family was not orthodox-Jewish, so they could bribe the German authorites and get "arian" ('aryjskie') papers, so S. Lem was even able to visit his friends in Lwow ghetto (see, for example, "High Castle"). It is very sad, that later Lem wrote so many bad things about communist authorities, the same authorities that allowed him to study (for free) medicine: first in Soviet Lwow, than in "communist" Polish Cracow... :(
lech.keller@gmail.com
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Maj 03, 2006, 02:04:03 pm
Lech, your ironic and sarcastic attitude is widely known. Yet you keep proving to us that there's still much more left...

Nevertheless, you knowledge about Lem spreads even wider, so I guess I'll get it over...  So thanks for the info!
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Kagan w Maj 03, 2006, 06:10:15 pm
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Lech, your ironic and sarcastic attitude is widely known. Yet you keep proving to us that there's still much more left...
Nevertheless, you knowledge about Lem spreads even wider, so I guess I'll get it over...  So thanks for the info!

OK! Please do not read my post above as a critique of Lem. All I wanted to say that Lem had a mixed ancestry. I also had one German (Bavarian) grandparent, one who was ascendant of Polish Tatars, one most likely Polish-Slavic origin (but who knows) and one, most likely German-Jewish...
I see nothing wrong in saying that S. Lem's ancestry was Polish-Jewish. It was also not a reason to shame that Lem's grandfather was an officer of Austro-Hungarian army, and his father was a (relatively) rich medical practitioner in (then) Polish city of Lwow (today Lviv in Western Ukraine). And it is a fact that (mostly) thanks to his Jewish origin, Lem got a very enthusiastic review in "New York Times Book Review", a review (by a fellow Jew - Mr.  Solotaroff) that opened for him the American market, the largerst market for SF literature and made Lem one of the richest persons in (then) "communist" Poland. Lem was rich, but one of few 20th century Poles, who got their riches honestly. It is again not a single reason to hide it or to be ashamed of...
Please also note, that when the Soviets entered Lwow, young Staszek Lem was alowed to study medicine (FOR FREE! - a dream of today's Americans), as Jews were then very strong in the Soviet Union (purges of Jews in the USSR started much later, when old Stalin became paranoid). But when Lwow was occupied by Nazi Germany, Staszek Lem had to work as a car mechanic and welder (his family was not orthodox-Jewish, so they could bribe the German authorites and get "arian" ('aryjskie') papers, so S. Lem was even able to visit his friends in Lwow ghetto (see, for example, "High Castle"). Again, that only proves his high inteligence and  cleverness...
It is also very sad, that later Lem wrote so many bad things about communist authorities, the same authorities that allowed him to study (for free) medicine: first in Soviet Lwow, than in "communist" Polish Cracow... It is also the truth. It is also the truth that Lem did not like to serve in the Polish army as a doctor. It was not really very patriotic... I think you know how much it costs (and it used to) to train a doctor! And then such a person "dicovers" that medicine is not hois or her cup of tea...
Cheers! :)
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Maj 03, 2006, 09:35:21 pm
Well, I've read that Lem was allowed to study medicine, because his father's connections helped him. But noone ever mentioned that the latter used his Jewish connections ::)

As for America, are you sure Lem was that much popular there?
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Kagan w Maj 04, 2006, 11:07:32 am
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Well, I've read that Lem was allowed to study medicine, because his father's connections helped him. But noone ever mentioned that the latter used his Jewish connections ::)

As for America, are you sure Lem was that much popular there?


1. As a Polish Jew young S. Lem could be not admitted to study engineering in Soviet Union of early 1940s. Engineering was then a very prestigious and strategic profession in USSR and government wanted (mostly for security reasons) more ethnic Russians (or at least persons of Slavic origin) to study engineering rather than Jews, that were (quite rightly, as it turned later, especially in 1968) not trusted, as their allegiance was not to communism and Russia (SU), but to zionizm and Israel...
But it could be also because S. Lem failed entry examination in mathematics. His father, as a physician, could help Staszek to get admition to study medicine, where entry examinations were not in mathematics (most likely in biology, chemistry and physics).
2. Lem was never as popular in the US as Asimov or Clarke. But his books sold well in in America and had many editions there. Please note that the US is and was the LARGEST market for SF books. So even, say, 1%-2% share of this marker is net worth (in USD, for example), than, say, 10% or even 20% share of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and even French market.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Maj 04, 2006, 12:37:43 pm
You say he failed maths? Ha! That's interesting.

As for the american market - ok, I get it.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Kagan w Maj 04, 2006, 02:57:24 pm
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Hmm, that's not quite accurate. In his conversation with Tomasz Fiałkowski Lem mentioned that he has intended to study on a university of technology but he couldn't due to his father's heritage. So with father's help he enrolled at the medical institute (alternatively he could have joined The Red Army so the choice was quite obvious).

Hope this helps.
Regards


Most likely Lem either forgot the reasons he could not study ingeneering, or tried to blame his failure on the "Reds". As Soviets were nor popular in Poland, such a lie was esily bought by the majority of  Poles. But as I do not follow this anti-Soviet and anti-Russian hysteria, so am not so easy fooled, and ask for hard evidence. Until I see some documents explaining why young Staszek Lem was not admitted to study engineering in Lwow (Lviv, Lvov), I insist that my hypotheis (failed mathematics) is as well likely as Mr. S. Lem's claim that he was discriminated because of his raciall or social origin...
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Kagan w Maj 04, 2006, 03:04:26 pm
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You say he failed maths? Ha! That's interesting.

As for the american market - ok, I get it.


1. All I say is that it was most likely that he has failed mathematics. It is based on statistical evidence and my experience as a university lecturer: the most likely subjects students fail are:
- mathematics,
- statistics and
- econometrics.
and similar (calculus, theory of probability, time series, econometric modelling etc.).
I use examples from my discipline, but know well that it is very similar at universities of technology....
2. In English one writes "American", "Polish", "Jewish" etc. Just for the record and in order to improve standard of English here...
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Metalist w Maj 05, 2006, 04:36:44 am
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But it could be also because S. Lem failed entry examination in mathematics. His father, as a physician, could help Staszek to get admition to study medicine, where entry examinations were not in mathematics (most likely in biology, chemistry and physics).

Kagan, what are your sources for this information? You speak of these things and form hypothesis on pretty specific allogations, yet all we have to go by, for the most part, is your word.
Cytuj
It is also very sad, that later Lem wrote so many bad things about communist authorities, the same authorities that allowed him to study (for free) medicine: first in Soviet Lwow, than in "communist" Polish Cracow... It is also the truth. It is also the truth that Lem did not like to serve in the Polish army as a doctor. It was not really very patriotic... I think you know how much it costs (and it used to) to train a doctor! And then such a person "dicovers" that medicine is not hois or her cup of tea...

Kagan, in the SU all education was "free" and we all know where that "Free" was gotten from. So to say that someone is at fault for not pursuing a doctor's career after being trained for it by the SU can only work if you are making an argument in defense of the SU. And although the SU does not "scare" you, to the most of us it is not going to strike a soft spot with anyone if your argument is "how terrible and unpatriotic Lem is by taking advantage of the free Soviet education system and then just spitting at his fellow comrades by not pursuing what he was studying"
Cytuj
Thanks to his Jewish origin, Lem got an enthusiastic review in "New York Times Book Review", a review (by a fellow Jew - Mr.  Solotaroff) that opened for him the American market, the largerst market for SF literature and made Lem one of the richest persons in (then) "communist" Poland.

To speculate that the reason he got a good review in the new york times is that he is of a Jewish heritage is rather unfounded.

Cytuj
Engineering was then a very prestigious and strategic profession in USSR and government wanted (mostly for security reasons) more ethnic Russians (or at least persons of Slavic origin) to study engineering rather than Jews,


The first part of your statement is sort of true, SU wanted people who were more Russian, not non-Jewish. Jews were descriminated against, but on a "Case by case" basis in this situatuion.

Cytuj
...Jews, that were (quite rightly, as it turned later, especially in 196 not trusted, as their allegiance was not to communism and Russia (SU), but to zionizm and Israel...

Where do you get this? My father's side of the family were all Jewish, mechanical and electronic engineers in the SU. Their allegiance was to neither Israel or SU or even zionizm, it was to their family. I'm sure that it was not your intention to do so, yet I can't help that  "...quite rightly, as it turned later, especially in 196 not trusted, as their allegiance was not to communism and Russia (SU), but to zionizm and Israel..." sounds to me like a rather antisemitic statement.
Tytuł: Re: Lem´s ancestry
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Metalist w Maj 05, 2006, 07:09:22 am
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Most likely Lem either forgot the reasons he could not study ingeneering, or tried to blame his failure on the "Reds". As Soviets were nor popular in Poland, such a lie was esily bought by the majority of  Poles. But as I do not follow this anti-Soviet and anti-Russian hysteria, so am not so easy fooled, and ask for hard evidence. Until I see some documents explaining why young Staszek Lem was not admitted to study engineering in Lwow (Lviv, Lvov), I insist that my hypotheis (failed mathematics) is as well likely as Mr. S. Lem's claim that he was discriminated because of his raciall or social origin...

So, what are you saying? That the Reds were popular in Poland? Which "hysteria" are you referring to? Are you saying that the Polish dislike of the Soviets was a lie (non-existant) or unjustified? Or that Lem, "made-up" the "Soviet Hysteria"? You ask for hard evidence of Lem's academic records? What hard evidence do you have to form your "hypothesis"? I'm not sure about the Polish or Croatian justice system, but in an American court arguments such as yours would be concidered "heresay".