Taube sees 20 years of planning pay off in PolandWARSAW, Poland - As his train rolled across Germany in 1939, passing through small towns where swastikas fluttered from flagpoles, Tad Taube cowered in fear each time Nazi police entered his compartment and barked orders for his documents - papers that plainly identified him as an 8-year-old Jewish boy from Poland.
But the full terror of the war was still a few months off, and Taube got safely through Germany to France, and then by ship to the United States, making a narrow escape from the Holocaust and a passage into a bright American future of Hollywood, football, entrepreneurial success and philanthropy.
Now the 82-year-old Taube (pronounced TOH-bee), who lives in California, is back in Poland, the land of his birth, to celebrate the partial opening of a new Polish Jewish history museum for which he has spent years raising funds.
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened its doors to the public for the first time Saturday, a milestone that comes with Taube’s help. He runs two philanthropies which together have committed about $16 million for the museum, the largest private donation to the project.
Though the museum, which celebrates the 1,000-year Jewish presence in Poland, does not yet have its permanent exhibition ready, officials were determined to at least have a small opening to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, which was marked Friday in a state ceremony.
From now until sometime next year, when the core exhibition should be finished, the museum will host temporary exhibitions, films, lectures and other cultural events.
This weekend, the museum is holding an open house, giving the public the first chance to explore a striking architectural creation.
Taube expressed satisfaction at seeing the museum reach this stage after nearly 20 years of planning.