Nasielsk, Poland

Traveling in Europe in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of World War II, David Kurtz, the author’s grandfather, captured three minutes of ordinary life in a small, predominantly Jewish town in Poland on 16mm Kodachrome color film. More than seventy years later, through the brutal twists of history, these few minutes of home movie footage would become a memorial to an entire community—an entire culture—annihilated in the Holocaust.

Three Minutes in Poland traces Glenn Kurtz’s remarkable four-year journey to identify the people in his grandfather’s haunting images. His search takes him across the United States, to Canada, England, Poland and Israel, to archives, film preservation laboratories, and an abandoned Luftwaffe airfield. Ultimately, Kurtz locates seven living survivors from this lost town, including an eighty-six-year-old man who appears in the film as a thirteen-year-old boy.

Painstakingly assembled from interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts, Three Minutes in Poland tells the rich, funny, harrowing, and surprisingly intertwined stories of these seven survivors and their Polish hometown. Originally a travel souvenir, David Kurtz’s home movie became the sole remaining record of a vibrant town on the brink of catastrophe. From this brief film, Glenn Kurtz creates a riveting exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival—a monument to a lost world.

Now, 75 years after the start of WWII, Glenn is accompanying more than thirty members of Nasielsk's former Jewish community, including Holocaust survivors, their families, and the families of Holocaust victims, on a return to Nasielsk. 

On October 29, 2014, they will meet with Nasielsk's high school students, who have studied the history of their town's Jewish community under the auspices of the Forum for Dialogue Among Nations. Survivors and their families will visit their former homes. They will meet with Nasielsk's current mayor, and will view a special photo exhibit about the town's Jewish community at the local library to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the deportation of Nasielsk's Jewish community on December 3, 1939.  

The purpose of our trip is not only to revisit the past, but also to engage a new generation in the Jewish history of Nasielsk and to forge connections between Poles and Jews, two communities that have traditionally viewed each other with suspicion.

Click here to view the Kickstarter video

Author Bio:

Glenn Kurtz is the author of Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music and host of “Conversations on Practice,” a series of public conversations about writing held at McNally-Jackson Bookstore in New York. He holds a PhD from Stanford University. 


From 2012

Dear Friends:

I'm honored and delighted to announce that my book, 

Three Minutes in Poland: 

Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Home Movie 

has been acquired by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The publication date will be announced soon. 

Three Minutes in Poland traces my four-year effort to preserve and decipher a 16mm home movie shot by my grandfather during a return visit to his birthplace, Nasielsk, Poland, a year before its destruction in the Holocaust.

Nasielsk, located thirty miles northwest of Warsaw, was home to more than three thousand Jews in 1938. Barely eighty of them survived World War II. My grandfather’s film contains the only known moving images of the town and its people.

In 2009, I donated the film to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington D.C. The Museum has just released a video about the film and the extraordinary reunion that resulted from this donation.

I feel privileged to be part of this story. Look for updates in the coming months. 

Glenn Kurtz



Three Minutes in Poland

Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Home Movie

glenn kurtz




View the video on YouTube

For more information contact Eli Rabinowitz

View the original at USHMM