‘We Were The Lucky Ones’ Premiere Recap: What Happens To Halina In Lvov?

The Hulu series We Were the Lucky Ones takes place during one of the most harrowing periods of the world, the war that plunged the world into chaos and death. With the Holocaust of the Jews, there was certainly no denying that the Nazis had lost their humanity. Perhaps V from V for Vendetta was indeed right when he called ideas bulletproof. It was certainly an idea that indoctrinated an entire generation of youth to commit atrocities, and a similar idea continues to propagate hatred throughout the world as we know it. 


This period drama about the bitter ordeals that a Jewish family goes through is heartbreaking; however, considering the recent political climate around the world, it feels very much like a premonition of the future. Perhaps history indeed repeats itself and the human race is stuck in this loop of violence, a never-ending cycle of hatred that further aggravates and sweeps more individuals into adopting segregationist sentiments like majoritarianism and racism. I do not have the answers to where all of this ends, but we can learn lessons on empathy and compassion from a series like We Were the Lucky Ones.

On a further note, I must add that despite putting out a series like this, I do not reckon that Hulu and Disney are keen on learning a lesson on empathy, considering their insensitive advertisements on Gaza. We Were the Lucky Ones depicts the trials and tribulations of a family on a microscopic level. Perhaps, this series can serve as a reflection of why one doesn’t need a political agenda to empathize with the sufferings of a family, and people need to realize that much. 


Spoilers Ahead

Who Are The Kurcs?

We Were the Lucky Ones is inspired by real events the author’s family experienced, who were Holocaust survivors, which makes the story even grittier. The series follows the Kurcs, a Polish family, as their world turns upside down after the invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union. An aging couple, Sol and Nechuma Krucs, along with their children, Genek, Jakub, Mila, Addy, and Halina, live in Radom, Poland, during the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Reich. As a fact, the persecution of the Jewish people did not commence in a single day; it started with the gradual rise in anti-Semitism, which took place all over the world, including countries like the UK, Poland, France, and Russia. It was possible that Hitler, an opportunistic psychopath with an expansionist dream, came into power in Germany and waged war on Germany’s neighbors. As for the Kurcs, anti-semitism isn’t a new thing in Poland; however, they have not been as affected by racism because of their high status in Polish society. However, they can sense the changing environment in Radom. Many of their fellow Jewish families have become unemployed or have left the country amidst the rising tensions. However, the patriarch of the family, Sol, is adamant about staying in his house. It is where he belongs and feels safe. 


Why Is Addy Unable To Return To Radom?

In 1938, Addy, the youngest son in the Krucs family, arrives in Radom for Passover. Addy lives in Paris and works as an electrical engineer and a part-time music composer. As he celebrates this festival with his family, he knows little about the fact that this is the last time he will be seeing his family before the war tears the continent apart. The next year, he tries his best to find a way back home for Passover, but he isn’t allowed to travel by the Polish Consulate in Paris. The reason being that he’s a Jew, and to travel back to Poland on the brink of war would be a death sentence for him. Addy wants to join the Polish army but is asked to enlist in the French army instead, as they also need able-bodied men. 

Why Are The Men Sent To Lvov? 

Lvov, known as Lviv in the present day, was a part of the Second Polish Republic until 1939. When Germany invaded Poland, all the men in Radom were drafted to fight in the city of Lvov, including the abled men in the Kurc family. Jakub, Genek, and Halina’s boyfriend, Adam, and Mila’s husband, Selim, are therefore forced to head to Lvov, leaving their spouses behind to fend for themselves. Little do they know that they’ll end up fighting the Russians who occupy Lvov, making it a part of the Soviet Union. 


What Happens To The Kurcs When Germany Occupies Radom? 

With the sons of the family gone, Sol, Nechuma, Mila, and Halina see things change significantly for the Kurc family when the Germans arrive at Radom. To begin with, their family textile business is taken away from them and granted to someone else. All the Jews of Radom are then appointed to labor duties at farms, factories, and whatnot. Later on, after Halina leaves for Lvov, the remaining members of the Kurc family are evicted from their house, like the rest of the Jewish families. All of their furniture is given to the new family that moves in, and they’re forced to live in cramped accommodations with other people. 

Why Does Halina Go To Lvov? 

Hearing the news of Lvov falling to the Soviets brings some relief to the Kurc family. Although Mila’s husband Selim is missing, Genek and Jakub have been allotted apartments and jobs in the new Soviet regime. Genek’s wife, Herta, decides to leave for Lvov as well. Knowing German, it is easier for Herta to avoid being suspected by the Nazis. The news of Jakub’s safety also brings relief to Bella, his girlfriend, who also decides to join Jakub in Lvov. Bella offers Halina the opportunity to accompany her on her journey to Lvov. With hopes of a new job and a better life, Halina agrees as well. However, their journey isn’t as convenient as Herta’s. 

An acquaintance of Bella’s decides to accompany them into the Soviet lines, but after 7 days of excruciating journey, they’re stopped at a German checkpoint. The officer at the checkpoint asks Bella and Halina to return when he finds out that they’re Jews. The ladies are compelled to find an alternative path to Lvov through a river crossing and finally reach their destination after a harrowing journey. 

Do Halina And Bella Find Jakub? 

After crossing into the Russian lines, the girls are met with a lenient attitude from the Soviet soldiers. They’re even provided with clothes and a tent for some rest. The next day, they head to Lvov and end up successfully finding Jakub, who reunites Halina with Genek and Adam as well. After a moment of rejoicing, Jakub and Bella decide to get married immediately. They feel like they might not get an opportunity again, and they must seize the moment. Genek arranged for a Rabbi to marry Jakub and Bella. 


Why Does Addy Quit The Army? 

Addy was quite aware of the anti-Semitism in France as well, but he faced a greater threat from the possibility of France falling under German occupation. He wanted a safe place for himself, and the only way to achieve that was to quit the army and leave Europe. He forged his own demobilization papers for that purpose. As expected by Addy, France is defeated by Germany, and the Nazis install a fascist puppet regime in France as well. In Vichy France, Addy and other Jews try their best to find opportunities in the US, but resources are very limited as the newly formed government has started to crack down on the Jews in France as well. Out of desperation, Addy approaches Dantas, the Brazilian ambassador to France, who is providing visas to countless Jews to save them from persecution. 

As a result, Dantas allows Addy to board the infamous ship SS Alsina en route to Rio de Janeiro, hoping for a safe haven. He boards the ship working as a pianist on his way to Rio. However, things turn sour for the refugees, a few days later, when the Vichy government prohibits them from leaving France, prompting the ship to drop the anchors in Senegal,  a French colony. After four months of being stuck onboard, the ship finally departs from the shores of Senegal but then heads to Morocco instead of Brazil. 


Why Was Genek Arrested? 

Genek, like everyone else during the Soviet occupation, was allotted an apartment to live in. However, after some time, he is arrested by the NKVD, an internal security organization of the Soviet Union. The Soviets hated the Poles, and when they occupied the Polish city of Lvov, the Poles were subjected to multiple atrocities at the hands of the Russians. Their first plan is to sniff out the people who still harbor Polish sentiments. Genek was a Polish man, and when he leased his apartment, he wrote his nationality as Polish. This is why the Soviets end up arresting Genek and declaring him an enemy of the state. However, seeing her husband being taken away, Herta offers herself to be arrested, as she doesn’t want to stay alone, and it’s better if she is imprisoned with Genek as well. 

Genek and Herta, along with the other Polish prisoners, are transported to a labor camp in Altybay, Siberia. In their new home, the couple lives under the authoritarian administration of Officer Romanov. By this time, Herta is pregnant and yet is subjected to hard work in exchange for three times worth rations and shelter. Months later, at this labor camp itself, Herta gives birth to their child as well. 


What Happens To Halina In Lvov? 

After reaching Lvov, she breaks up with Adam. Like Adam, Halina wishes to do much more for the Polish resistance instead of being his lover and having an easier life. A few months later, assimilating into her life in Lvov, Halina starts working at a forensics lab under a prestigious researcher, Dr. Levenhed. She also secretly works for the underground Polish movement, doing whatever she can for her people. However, after a conversation with Dr. Levenhed, she mentions that her brother Genek is missing. Although Dr. Levenhed initially appears empathetic to the girl, he reports her to the NKVD, who arrest her as well. 

Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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