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KPBS Commentaries

All Roads Lead to Pawel

By Byron LaDue, Kafka Project founding member & research associate

The search for Kafka's lost papers in the expansive region of Silesia has always relied on determination, luck, coincidence and the kindness of strangers. There was no definite plan when we arrived in Krakow, only a general idea to find some archives and pass out the Kafka Project Alert so that the archivists could recognize the missing Kafka treasure. And Kathi's belief that we needed to be here in order for "Something to Happen." A month ago we arrived in Krakow. There happened to be a Jewish Cultural Festival going on, beginning the day we arrived. As a part of the festival we decided to take Yiddish lessons at the Galicia Jewish Museum .

For an article she is writing, Kathi interviews the museum's director, Kate Craddy. As the interview concludes, Kate mentions, as an afterthought, that the US Embassy is throwing a Fourth of July party that very evening. She gives us the name of Susan Parker-Burns, Consul for Press and Culture at the US Consulate in Krakow as a contact. So we show up, get in the receiving line at the entrance to the party at the Sheraton, mention the name of Susan Parker-Burns, and, even though we admit that we don't know her and she doesn't know us, we know she is leaving on vacation and we need to speak to her tonight. We're a little bit dressed up and have our American passports and the next thing we know we're shaking hands with the US Ambassador to Poland. 

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Trudi from Florida
July 21, 2008 at 05:02 PM
The Kafka Project Alert in every library...how exciting! Still laughing over image of "Scooby Doo talking through a zipper". Love you both.

Wiliam Diamant from Anna Maria, Florida
July 22, 2008 at 04:43 PM
I have been venjoying* your blogs immensley' All roads Lead to Pawel is particularly good. It introduces us to a remarkably nice highly motivated man who almost anyone would be thrilled to know. Aside from the fact that meeting him is a personal pleasure we now have another coincidence. It is not "The Importance of Being Ernst" but rather the fact that early on in your search you tried to contact the author of "The Nightmare of Reason" (who''s name escapes me at the moment) for information about Dora--only to find out that he had recently passed away--however his widow was kind enough to give you some leads. Now, near the ever increasing possibility of success, Pawel is again your guide. Wow Who was it - and this time I have really forgotten- who in talking with you about the search for the papers in Silesia said "The chances of your finding them are not zero"? It's beginning to look like he was right and your chances of finding them not zero have at least doubled or tripled. I think at this point all systems are "GO" You can safely leave Europe now.. Congratulations on this part of the being successfully completed. *venjoying--my portmanteau word for vicariously enjoying

Steve Schlesinger from US
July 22, 2008 at 09:14 PM
Kathi - This is great news - so exciting - I have attached the link to my photos of our tour in June -Steve

Steve Schlesinger from US
July 22, 2008 at 10:36 PM
Here is the actual link to Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/steves_pix/collections/ -Steve

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Ena Newell from San Diego, CA
July 23, 2008 at 05:27 PM
I am so excited to hear all the progress. It is all so amazing, each entry and the paths that are opening up. I look forward to each bit of information that is revealed. Thank you!

Pawel Jedrzejko from Sosnowiec, Poland
July 28, 2008 at 11:45 PM
My Dearest Kathi and Byron -- I am both humbled and terrified by your all-too-kind comments about me: humbled, because both you and I know that I enjoyed every minute of your stay in Silesia, so my motives were predominantly egoistic. Terrified, because you make my assistance into an extraordinary phenomenon, while I have always found it pretty obvious that academics all over the world must support one another: once we cease to live by such an unwritten code of professional and human solidarity, this world is going to the dogs. Secondly, hand-kissing is a traditional (albeit quite sexist) custom in Poland: I never do it outside of my country for fear of being accussed of mild lunacy or blatant lack of manners. It is especially important to remember this while meeting representatives of a certain generation :-) Thirdly, have you applied for your Polish citizenship yet? If not, hurry up before you take on the Valley accent! Hugs galore! Pawel

Kathi Diamant from Back home in San Diego, CA
July 30, 2008 at 02:28 PM
Dear, dear Pawel, I miss the hand kissing. Trying to get Byron to pick it up, no success yet. But still working on it. Which takes me back to one of my favorite Kafka quotes: "Believing in progress is not the same as believing that any progress has yet been made. That is not the sort of belief that indicates real faith." (Zurau Aphorism #48) So, no Polish citizenship yet, but found lots of zlotys tucked away in a safe place in my suitcase, so I have money for a pivo or two at Stonehenge when I return.