Leszek Leo Kantor (born in 1940) – Polish writer, university teacher, documentary film director, currently living in Sweden.
Leszek Leo Kantor was born in 1940 in Kharkiv. He and his mother escaped to Ural Mountains near Ekaterinburg. His father was killed in 1941 by Germans. In 1945, Leszek was adopted by Grzegorz Kantor from Kolomyia an N.C.O in the Polish Army, who survived the Holocaust while in the Polish Army in Modlin Forest in 1939. He was taken POW but escaped to Russia in 1940. In 1946, together with his mother and stepfather, Leszek arrived in Strzegom, the same place where he lived as a child.
At the end of the Fifties,he enrolled at the Department of Russian Philology at the Pedagogical University in Opole, where subsequently he was hired as an instructor at the Foreign Languages Department. In Opole, he formed the Opole Student Club, A Scholarly “Elf” (Skrzat) and was the main initiator and organiser of the first Winter Student Song Competition, which continues to this day. The “Elf” -Skrzatstill exists today. While he was interrogated by a special commission after students’ protests in March 1968, his mother died at the age of 49. In May 1968, his employment was terminated for “passivity in the suppression of sit-ins at students dormitory on Katowicka Street”, where he was a guardian, and he was banned from working in all schools throughout the country, including even summer camps.
In 1969 he left for Sweden with a one-way travel document and 10 US dollars tucked in his shoes.
In 1971, he defended his post-graduate LicencjateDegree in Philology, receiving the grade of “very good”. Initially, he started working at the Institute of Slavic Languages and then at the Institute of Political Sciences. He worked at the University of Stockholm until 2005.
Since 2001, he has acted as Director of the International Documentary Film Festival, “Man in the World”. Between1995and2005 he was a member of Swedish Government Council for Ethnic Equality. Since 1990, he has acted as Head of the International Forum of Culture in Sweden and Central Federation of Expatriates in Sweden. In the years 1969-1980, he cooperated with Polish Radio Free Europe. In 1989 he was one of the main initiators and organisers of the World Forum of Jewish 1968 Emigrants, “Polish Jews ’68 Reunion” in Ashkelon.
Since 1989 he has also worked as guest lecturer at various universities in Poland and Scandinavian Countries. He is a jury member at numerous international film festivals. He organises numerous international seminars, meetings and scientific sessions focusing on the Holocaust, tolerance and human rights. Since 2005, he has been Editor-in-Chief of the Polish-Swedish quarterly, “Sueca-Polonia”. In1989 he was awarded the Medal of Merit for the Polish Culture and in 2000he received the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. In 2008, he received the main prize of the Federation of Swedish Artists for the defence of human rights and the fight against racism in this Federation’s action, “Sweden against the Nazis”. His films “Where Currants Grow” (2013) and “In Search of the Lost Landscape” (2015) were greatly applauded by the critics. He published articles inGazetaWyborcza and Rzeczpospolita dailies (Poland), Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), Vasabladet (Finland), Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) and Politiken (Denmark).
In 2016, together with a group of people known as the“March Immigrants”, he founded the World Federation of Polish Jews, “ZIKARON-MEMORY”.
He is married to Regina Liberman Kantor, a dentist from Łódź. They have one son, Mark David Kantor. They live in Stockholm.