When Adam Ringer was forcibly removed from Poland simply because he was Jewish, he didn’t think he’d ever be able to return to his homeland.
It was back in 1968 that Mr Ringer, 19 at the time, was made to renounce his Polish citizenship and kicked out of the country, during one of communism’s darker episodes.
Just 23 years after the Holocaust, Poland’s surviving Jewish population was targeted by an anti-Semitic purge officially sanctioned by the country’s then communist authorities.
Branded an “anti-Zionist” campaign, Polish Jews were stripped of their jobs and deported, because of the government’s – and the wider Soviet Bloc’s – growing hostility towards Israel at the time.
An estimated 14,000 Poles of Jewish faith or ancestry were forced to leave the country, after each being given a document that stated that its holder was stateless and had no right to ever return to Poland.
Looking back, Mr Ringer says: “Many of my colleagues were arrested… my father was expelled from his job. We were all in shock and feared for the worst.”
Mr Ringer, who at the time had been an electronics student at Warsaw Technical University, was taken in by Sweden. His parents, both Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors, followed a year later.
It wasn’t until the fall of communism in Poland in 1989 – 21 years after he was exiled – that Mr Ringer was able to finally return to his homeland.
And in revenge on the communists that forced him to leave Poland, he played a key role in helping the country rebuild a capitalist economy.
Today a well-known Polish businessman, and boss of popular Polish coffee chain Green Caffe Nero, he is able to look back on an adult life that went from trauma and heartbreak to triumphant return and redemption.
Now 68, Mr Ringer says he chose Sweden because he didn’t have a lot of options.
“Scandinavian countries’ doors were open for people like me, unlike the UK, France and the US,” he says. “And it was closer than Israel, where I also didn’t know anyone.”
Photo: CBC / News Source: CNN