1940. There is a street in Cracow’s Podgórze where there is only one house. The house is white and has two turrets. It is placed right by the Vistula river. In the past a wooden bridge and the house formed a picturesque whole together. The three arches of the bridge were held up by two piers. It was taken to pieces before the war. The piers are still stuck in the Vistula like lone chimneys of burnt-down houses. The street’s name is Przy Moście. The only house is marked with number 1. It was my family home.
When a man, saved from a cataclysm, felt once again that he lives, a question crossed his mind: Why does life, which has evolved onto the highest level – that of a human being – accepts such forms of living where one man inflicts suffering on another? After all there is biological morality, which is based on the belief that evil is what opposes the growth of human awareness and hence also liberation of oneself and other people. Evil takes us back to the unaware. It separates us from others, makes us selfish, alienates us from a social group. Good – in biological and social sense – increases solidarity between people inhabiting the earth. The following stand, supported by the history of culture, is probably right: through education at home, school and in everyday interpersonal relations we can achieve the greatest good, that is the ability of people and nations to coexist. It is only then that a man, enriched by this knowledge, can become a true human, which means that he will create good fate for others.
Several times I have survived in situations of personal danger, where, according to logic, “I had no right” to survive. The feeling of the “gift” of additional years of living made me realise that the sense of existence lies in living for others.
Translation by Paulina Ohar-Zima
Pseudonym “Doktor Twardy” (20 Aug 1908, Kraków – 18 Oct 1988, Kraków), doctor, professor and philosopher of medicine, hematologist, founder of Polish psychosomatics, great humanist, inspirer and pioneer of many research disciplines. He graduated from Medical Academy at Jagiellonian University in 1933 in Kraków, where he worked his entire life. His war experiences, including the incarceration in the Kraków ghetto and the partisan fights with the Home Army, are depicted in his stirring book, Kartki z dziennika doktora Twardego (Pages from Dr Twardy’s Journal, 1964). Author of hundreds of articles and several books, such as Hematology of Infectious Diseases, Leukemia Ecology,and many other books in Polish. Recipient of the Order of Virtuti Militari, and in a 2000 plebiscite, he was voted the “Cracovian of the 20th century in Science.” He is the only person after whom two streets are named in Kraków: Juliana Aleksandrowicza St. and Doktora Twardego St.