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Katarzyna Szkaradnik

The border bridge of (no)memory and the café of five languages. About Cieszyn Silesia's silva rerum by Renata Putzlacher

     This article is dedicated to the phenomenon of Cieszyn Silesia borderland in light of In Café "Avion", which does not exist by Renata Putzlacher, a poetess and Polonist from Czech Tesin. She is a Pole born in Zaolzie - the part of the region, which was assigned to Czechoslovakia after World War I and II - and in her compound book she struggles with her "split" identity. A symbol of both that split and Polish-Czech animosities is a border bridge on the river Olza. The article shows how Putzlacher has carried out the project of a metaphorical bridge building, which connects, not divides. She discovers the fortunes of a now-defunct café lying near the bridge on Olza and of its owner, a Jewess Rozalia Wiesner, as well as of other Cieszyn Jews. Their history is joined with the past of Putzlacher's family, which arrived to Cieszyn from Styria via Eastern Borderlands. Following the ancestors' paths and her own tangled roots, the poetess finds her manifold heritage and thanks to Rozalia she finds more universal dimension of foreignness - the fact, that one's own place is not something to find, but to build. The article's authoress demonstrates how Putzlacher replaces the cult of a little homeland with reminding about Poles', Czechs', Germans' and Jews' difficult life together in Cieszyn borderland. The poetess' main aim is to work for the present community, also by the reconstruction in a literary cabaret the spirit of Café "Avion", where Polish, Czech, German, Yiddish and a local dialect was heard. However, the work on such a task cannot be completed, because the community remains an utopia - a place which does not exist (yet).

     Keywords: the phenomenon of Cieszyn Silesia borderland, Renata Putzlacher, memory.

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