BY LUCY LETHBRIDGE
NE OF THE Pope's
oldest friends was in
London last week to tell of the remarkable story of his reunion with the Pontiff nearly quarter of a century after they were driven apart by the Second World World War. He remembered how, even when they were children, everyone thought that "Karol Wojtyla could have been anything. If he had joined General Motors, he would have become Chairman."
Jerzy Kluger, who was visiting London for the publication of Letter to a Jewish Friend by Franco Svidercoschi, which tells the story of the friendship between Mr Kluger and Karol Wojtyla, carried with him a batch of faded photographs that showed the two men as young boys, Lolek and Jurek, in their home town of Wadowice and more recent ones that show the Kluger family breakfasting with the Pontiff in the Vatican.
however, their early lives were changed by the advent of anti-semitism and it was only when Jerzy Kluger settled in Rome in 1965 that he learnt that his old classmate, I.olek, "a brilliant actor", had become the Archbishop of Cracow. He dialled the Archbishop's number and left his name "not sure if it was the Wojtyla that I remembered or if he would call back".
The Archbishop, however, did call back and the two have renewed a friendship that remains solid after over 60 years.
The book, which was written after extensive interviews with Mr Kluger, tells the story of the terrible persecution of the Jews of Wadowice during the war, culminating in the 1965 meeting of the two men.
The book has already been translated into 10 languages.
Annabel Robson of the book's UK publishers, Hodder and Stoughton, told the Catholic Herald: "This Is an immensely moving and powerful book which promises to be a bestseller."