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Jewish Journal

Szczecin Jews Rocked (+ video)

Przemek Dudek / Poland

March 15, 2012 | 3:37 pm

  Are you in your teens and fed up with the totally out-of-date offerings for young people provided by your community? Want to start a rock group with your Jewish friends from the block? Are you getting excited about the NEW TRENDS in music and want to be INVOLVED? If so, you are about 50 years too late, as this is the story of one special big beat group from Szczecin, Poland.
In the beginning of the 60s, Szczecin was still a city with a visible presence of Jews, it might not have been 30.000 people (making 40% of the city population), as in 1946, but still several thousand Jews were living in the city to which they came after World War II. Young Jews from that time were as fascinated with the new wave of Western music as their peers from around the world, so the idea to make a big beat group was only a logical consequence.

  Mietek Klajman decided to start a band after coming from a summer camp where he met friends from Łódź who had already been performing. He quickly learned how to play six basic chords and was joined by Mietek Lisak, Sioma Zakalik, Józek Laufgas, Kuba Cirring and Olek Kauperberg (who provided the group with a self-made bass guitar). As any other rock band, the group came to the point of choosing a proper name and came up with “Następcy Tronów,” which was the Polish translation of the title of Masseli’s movie “I Delfini” and approximately means “heirs to the thrones”. The group was taken under the care of the Jewish Culture Club and provided with a place to practice in the Perec School, which came to be a bit problematic as the room in which they were practicing was equipped with a very expensive item – a tv-set and the risk of destroying it by young rebellious people was way too serious for the teaching body. The group, however, was given discreet supervision and proved themselves to be trustworthy.

  The group was getting attention from audiences and even performed for 20,000 people during rock festivals. Their repertoire consisted both of covers like “you really got me” by the Kinks and their own songs, including the only saved recording - a protest song “Płacz wietnamskich dzieci” (Cry of the Vietnamese Children), which was supported by the Communist government aiming to criticize US politics and military actions. Formally part of the Youth Section of the Jewish Culture Club, the group also performed traditional Jewish songs, but their number was not high enough for the older members of the community.

  Następcy Tronów had a good reception during festivals and concerts and might have been well recognized in Poland, but after 1968, when the repressions of the communist government targeted Jews, only two of the members stayed in Poland. Their friends however could listen to them once more in concert during a reunion for those who left Poland in 1968, however that is not the end of the story of their songs. In 2012, another Szczecin band covered their “Płacz Wietnamskich Dzieci” just changing it to the “Cry of the Afghani children”.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Jews visiting Central & Eastern Europe frequently come with stereotypes and prejudices about the region.  In particular, group heritage and education tours for young Jews...

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