Wiera Vera Gran (20 April 1916 - 19 November 2007) was a Polish Jewish singer and actress. Reputedly born as Weronika Grynberg, she was also known as Vera Gran and Mariol.
Wiera Gran had a low alto voice even in early 1934, when at the age of 17 when--using the pseudonym Sylvia Green--she made her first recording, the tango Grzech. She sang in the Cafe Paradis in Warsaw in the early 1930s. While most of her recordings are in the Polish language, she sang in Yiddish in the movie On a heym (Without a home) with Shimon Dzigan and Israel Shumacher.
She escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II and was hiding in Warsaw-Babice (Boernerowo).
In 1937 she got married to Dr. Kazimierz Jezierski. Her husband was after the war employed by the Polish Ministry of State Security, helping in execution of Pilecki, Nil a.o. political prisoners of the Stalinist period, the victims of a judiciary murder.
In 1950, she moved to France. She was associated with Maurice Chevalier's stage theater, Alhambra. She performed in Paris in the charity concert with Charles Aznavour. The first song which made her popular was composed in 1937 by Adolf Kurc (later known as Eddy Courts) to Gran's lyrics. She traveled to Poland in 1965. Some of her best known songs include "List", "Wir tańca nas porwał", "Gdy odejdziesz", "Trzy listy", "Fernando", "Cicha jest noc", "Varsovie de mon enfance", "Ma Patrie" and "Mazowiecki wiatr".
After the war, in 1945, Gran was accused in Poland by Jonas Turkow and Adolf Berman of collaboration with the Germans during World War II. Władysław Szpilman said in the court to hear of her collaboration in "aryan" Warsaw during the war since August 1943. Marek Edelman (Kommendant of the Ghetto Uprising in Warsaw) said on 5.5.1945 that he heard about the collaboration of Wiera Gran with the Gestapo. He heard also that a death sentence was imposed against her by the Home Army (Armia Krajowa - AK), but Gran was not found, and therefore it did not come to an enforcement. Similar information reported by Irena Sendlerowa AK The Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) in Warsaw holds documents from that period.
In 1947, the Citizen's Court of the Central Committee of Polish Jews (Sąd Obywatelski przy Centralnym Komitecie Żydów Polskich) heard the case and Gran was found not guilty in 1949.
Wiera Gran later emigrated to Israel where she had to face similar accusations by Jonas Turkow, Adolf Berman, and Pesach Burstein and was boycotted. She attempted to clear her name in courts there but the trial was finally suspended in 1982.
In a statement made by Irena Sendlerowa in 1983 at the Jewish Historical Institute, she testified against Gran.
Antoni Marianowicz, at this time 16-years old, considers the accusations to be profoundly idiotic, but Marianowicz says himself in his book, that he stayed most of the wartime outside of the ghetto in the "aryan" Warsaw. Marianowicz claims Wiera Gran was a "singer and only a singer" and was known to him for her philanthropy.
An anonymous affidavit was given in Tel Aviv in 1971 regarding Wiera Gran. and later donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In her book Sztafeta Oszczerców published in 1980 in Paris, Gran gives her own account of events and argues her innocence accusing Jonas Turkow of collaboration with Gestapo.
A personal opinion is made by journalist Joanna Szczęsna in 2010 Gazeta Wyborcza Szczęsna posits that the accusations against Gran were based on personal animosities between Gran and Jonas Turkow and Władyslaw Szpilman. Joanna Szczęsna in Gazeta Wyborcza informs that Gran accuses Szpilman and Polanski of planning to kill Wiera Gran. Szczęsna quotes, from documents preserved in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, statements made by Grans friends such as Jerzy Jurandot, Krystyna Żywulska and Izabela Czajka-Stachowicz, all of whom claimed that the accusations against Wiera Gran were based on hearsay.
In her book "Vera Gran: The Accused", author Agata Tuszynska writes, in part,: "She began singing in the Cafe Sztuka, inside the Warsaw ghetto. While the Polish underground ordered artists not to perform in German-run theaters and stages and executed collaborators, looser rules applied inside the ghetto. Wladyslaw Szpilman, who gained posthumous fame because of Roman Polanski's film The Pianist, based on his memoir, was one of Gran's accompanists. Both managed to survive, but their fates afterward couldn't have been more different. He was celebrated, she was denounced."
Gdy odejdziesz on YouTube composer Stanisław Ferszko,
Ciemna dziś noc on YouTube Polish words by Julian Tuwim to the Russian Tyomnaya Noch by Nikita Bogoslovski,
the Lambeth Walk on YouTube
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license