Jerzy Ficowski Laid To Rest

The writer, gypsy scholar and resistance veteran Jerzy Ficowski was laid to rest on Thursday at Warsaw's historic Powazki Cemetery. Ficowski was eighty-two when he passed away a week ago. As mourners paid their last respects, a gypsy violinist played a traditional melody over the writer's coffin.

Jerzy Ficowski is chiefly known in the West as the foremost scholar of Bruno Schulz, the pre-war Polish/Jewish writer who has been dubbed 'the Polish Kafka.' Although Ficowski himself lay outside the realms of popular trends, he was respected in Poland as a distinguished writer in his own right, and he published a number of short stories.

Ficowski's fruitful relationship with Poland's beleaguered Romany community came about in peculiar circumstances. The writer had fought in the doomed Polish Uprising in Warsaw against Nazi occupation. After the Soviets installed their men in 1945, Ficowski - like many resistance veterans - felt compelled to go into hiding. After living with the Roma for two years, he went on to become Poland's most distinguished scholar of gypsy lore.

Ficowski's landmark biography of Bruno Schulz (who was gunned down by a Nazi soldier in 1943) was published in an English translation in 2002. A Canadian writer, Soren Gauger, has since translated 'Waiting for the Dog to Sleep', a collection of short stories that is due for publication this summer.

Writers, resistance veterans and representatives of the Roma community all gathered on Thursday to bid farewell to Ficowski. He is survived by his wife.


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