In 1913, Helena Bryszkiewska left Poland, looking for a better life in
    the United States. Eighty-seven years later, her grandson traveled
    back to Poland searching for a connection to the life his grandmother
    left behind. Leonard Kniffel left his home in Chicago to live in the
    Polish village of Nowe Miasto Lubawskie, carrying with him a few
    scraps of evidence—old photographs and letters—and memories of
    the stories his grandmother told him about her emigration to  
    Michigan. A Polish Son in the Motherland is a travel memoir of his    
    life in contemporary Poland and his journey into his family’s past.

    The past hundred years have not been easy for Poland. It regained
    its independence in 1918 only to be overrun by Germany and the
    Soviet Union in World War II. Kniffel could feel the residue of the war
    lingering there, as he learned that there are no longer any Jewish
    citizens in Nowe Miasto Lubawskie—the synagogue and the Jewish
    cemetery disappeared, while the building that housed Gestapo
    headquarters remains. He also quickly became aware of the toll fifty
    years of communism had taken on the country and its people and of
    the power of Catholicism, one concrete connection the author had    
    to his Motherland.

    Kniffel moved in with Adam, a local entrepreneur who owned four
    stores and a jam factory, and began mastering his ancestral
    language. While his family eluded him, he learned the ways of the
    community from Adam’s mother, and some of the secrets of Nowe
    Miasto Lubawskie from a feisty local wine merchant. His adventure
    became more than an investigation into his family history, but also
    one into the relationship between mothers and sons. His experience
    as a stranger in a strange land helped him understand how his
    grandmother must have felt in the United States during the Great
    Migration.

    In the epilogue, Kniffel remembers that when he was a child he must
    have seemed lost, for his grandmother would often ask him, “What
    are you looking for?” and then would pause and add, “Yesterday?”
    Perhaps he was looking for his yesterday even then. Now, he has
    found it. A Polish Son in the Motherland invites you to share the
    adventure.
All rights reserved.

A POLISH SON IN THE MOTHERLAND
AN AMERICAN'S JOURNEY HOME
BY
LEONARD KNIFFEL

BOOK SUMMARY