Jewish Journal

Poland honors Jewish newswoman

by  Tom Tugend

November 11, 2011 | 12:08 am

Joanna Kozinska-Frybes, left, Poland's consul-general in Los Angeles, conferred her country's Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit, on veteran journalist Ruth Ellen Gruber.

Some 28 years ago, Poland’s Communist regime arrested Ruth Ellen Gruber, then bureau chief for United Press International. Police threw her in jail, interrogated her and finally expelled her on trumped-up espionage charges.

Gruber is now the chief European correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), whose reports appear frequently in The Journal.

Last week in Los Angeles, she again faced Polish officials, but this time to receive the country’s Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit, one of the highest honors bestowed on foreigners.

Polish Consul-General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes recalled that while her country was under martial law 30 years ago, Gruber arranged to have a camera smuggled to imprisoned Solidarity activists.

Subsequently, the photos of the prisoners were published around the world, with one showing Kozinska-Frybes’ husband.

The Polish diplomat also noted that Gruber’s articles, lectures and books were “not only filling the empty virtual space, but recreating the real one: of Jews in Poland, encouraging them to rediscover their roots,” while lauding the reporter’s “personal courage, honesty and modesty.”

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