Real-Life Halina Kurc In ‘We Were the Lucky Ones’: Did Halina Marry Adam?

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We Were the Lucky Ones, based on Georgia Hunter’s novel of the same name, tells us the story of the real-life Kurc family, who defied the odds and survived the Holocaust. It could be said that Halina played a huge role in reuniting her family, and it was commendable how she didn’t surrender to her circumstances even when she was subjected to torture. The character of Halina Kurc, played beautifully by Joey King, is based on a real-life person. Georgia said that though she has stated true facts in her novel, there were times when she had to take certain creative liberties whenever she felt the need to. But overall, whatever is written in the novel did happen in real life, and if the journey of the Kurc family wasn’t documented, it would have been very hard to even imagine that something like this could have ever happened. Halina was quite rebellious by nature, and she spoke her heart out.

There were times when her ideologies did not align with those of her parents or her siblings, but she never gave in, as she believed in her sensibilities more than anything else. As stated in the series, Halina was living with her parents when Poland was attacked by the German forces. Halina wanted her family to leave before it was too late, but her parents, Sol and Nechuma, didn’t want to do so. They believed that if they had survived the Great War in the past, then they would be able to make do, somehow, this time, too. But Sol and Nechuma had no clue how bad the situation was going to get. Halina was the one who went out to work in Radom, and she saw the kind of brutality the Polish people were subjected to. Lawlessness prevailed, and the German soldiers acted according to their whims and fancies. Halina saw people getting beaten, tortured, and murdered, and that made her take the decision to leave Radom. She didn’t want to leave her parents behind, but she realized that she would only be able to help their cause if she was alive. In real life too, Halina went to Lvov, as firstly, her brothers were there, and secondly, she knew that the state of territories under the Soviet Union was not as bad.

In Lvov, Halina started working as a technician’s assistant at a military hospital, and it is true that she often stole chemicals from her lab so that she could hand them over to the underground Polish resistance. Adam worked for the Polish resistance movement, and he needed these chemicals to create fake IDs. Halina did get caught by the law enforcement authorities, and she was kept in custody and questioned for days. But Halina was quite resilient by nature, and she didn’t give in. For days, she was tortured; for days, she was asked to give the names of other members, but the brave woman stuck to her narrative, and finally, the authorities released her. Halina married Adam, though there was a time when she had doubts about doing so, not because she didn’t love Adam but because she didn’t know if she would be able to take on the responsibility in such turbulent times. Halina had to leave Lvov after the Germans occupied the area, and she went to Warsaw. Halina had realized that if she wanted to survive, she would have to cut off all and any associations she had with her roots. She advised Adam, too, to do the same, and both of them went to great lengths to create a fake identity for themselves. Halina, all this while, thought of ways to get her parents out of Radom. She knew that the possibility of being caught was quite high, but leaving her parents behind was never an option.

Halina first found a Polish family, and she went and talked to them about letting her parents stay there. Halina knew that her entire plan could backfire, as she barely knew the people. She knew that probably, to save themselves, they could hand over her parents to the authorities. But then she also realized that she didn’t have any other option and that she would have to take the risks. It is mentioned in the novel that there was tension and unease in the air when Sol and Nechuma met their Polish hosts for the first time. Marta and Albert Gorski were good people in times like those; it was quite obvious for anybody to look out for their own safety first. Marta knew the consequences of hiding Jews in her home, but she still went ahead with it. Warsaw was bombed quite frequently during that time, and to make matters worse, Halina was caught by the German soldiers many times. Once, when Halina was working as a housemaid for people of Austrian descent, a Gestapo caught her. The poor woman was tortured for 4 months (as mentioned in the novel), but still her spirit didn’t break. She endured, and she always had the belief that one day she would be able to go back to her family. Halina’s employers vouched for her during that time, and subsequently, she was released from prison. 

At the time when the German forces surrendered, Halina was living in Lodz with her family. We saw at the beginning of We Were the Lucky Ones that Halina got a letter from someone, and she was elated as she knew that her family had defied the odds. That letter was probably from Genek, who informed her that he was safe and with Selim in Italy. Halina took her sister, Mila, and her parents to Italy, where finally they met Genek and Selim. In 1947, the Kurc family finally reunited in Rio de Janeiro at Addy’s home for a Passover. They remembered how, approximately 9 years ago, they had their last Passover together. Halina and Adam settled in São Paulo, and they spent the rest of their days in peace. Halina’s rebellious nature came to good use. Her resilient spirit didn’t let her lose hope, and she made sure that not only did she stand strong in the face of adversity, but she also found a way out of every situation, no matter how difficult it would have seemed at first. 


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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