Newsletter July 2017

July 2017

 La version française se trouve ici


Simone Veil (1927-2017)

The world has lost one of the most charismatic figures of the 20th century politics, Simone Veil. Since the creation of the European Association of the Museum of History of Polish Jews, she was its Honorary President.

Her life, after months passed in Auschwitz death camp, was devoted to making the world a place where this kind of event would never repeat itself. She began working for the Ministry of Justice, improving among others, the living conditions of female inmates – she was particularly sensible to the fate of the fighters for the independence of Algeria imprisoned during the Algerian War. As the Health Minister representing the right wing party, she lead to decriminalisation of abortion in France in 1975. She later became the President of the European Parliament (1979-1982), and remained among the favourite people of French public opinion polls for years.

AEMJP and Beit Hatfutsot

The European Association of the Museum of The History of Polish Jews POLIN (AEMJP), jointly with Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of The Jewish People in Tel Aviv, were delighted to propose a unique screening of a famous documentary about how more than 15,000 Jews had to leave Poland in March 1968, “Gdanski Railway Station” (Dworzec Gdanski) written by Teresa Torańska and directed by Maria Zmarz-Kozanowicz. The screening took place in Tel Aviv, at the Beit Hatfutsot, on June 4, 2017.

In March 2018, the new POLIN Museum in Warsaw – the Museum of the History of Polish Jews – will be opening an unprecedented exhibition on the events of March 1968: Estranged. March ’68 and Its Aftermath. This exhibition is the first event of this kind and dimension – hosted by a State-supported institution in Poland – which will launch a genuine project of recognition of the March Events, of large scale research programs, and educational campaigns.

Join the AEMJP in its efforts to support this exhibition. Become a donor by clicking here.

Pictures of the Beit Hatfutsot event are now available online.

Polin Museum

Conference: March 1968. Fifty Years Later.

13-15 March 2018

On the 50th anniversary of March ’68, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Institute of History and the Institute of Sociology at the Warsaw University invite you to an interdisciplinary conference. Historians, sociologists, political scientists, cultural experts as well as representatives of other fields in arts, humanities and social sciences were encouraged to submit their presentations.

In March 1968, student protests against the policies of the communist administration soon escalated into a mass youth rebellion. The regime responded both with brutal repressions and an anti-Semitic propagandistic campaign which triggered purges in the party apparatus. The outcome of March ’68 events were stifling of all intellectual activity and forced the emigration of at least 13,000 Polish Jews.

Call for papers: The organizers invite the guests to reflect upon the causes, the course and the aftermath of March ’68 in a comparative perspective.

Click here to know more

Emanuel Ringelblum and Oneg Shabbat – permanent exhibition in November 2017

The Ringelblum Archive and its creators, members of a clandestine team, Oneg Shabbat (Hebrew for Joy of Sabbath), will soon be the centre of a permanent exhibition, currently under construction supervised by Professor Paweł Śpiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute. The exceptional value of this archive for humanity was recognized by UNESCO, which inscribed the Ringelblum Archive in the Memory of the World register. The opening is scheduled for November 2017.

The AEMJP continues to raise money for the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, financing the creation of the exhibition.

International recognition for the Frank Stella and Historic Synagogues of Poland exhibition.

The temporary exhibition Frank Stella and Historic Synagogues of Poland was named one of the world’s top 15 art exhibitions in 2016 by Hyperallergic, an American online art magazine with 70,000 subscribers. POLIN Museum featured works from Frank Stella’s Polish Village series, each of which is named after the town in pre-war Poland, inspired by its wooden synagogue. Stella’s work was shown together with pre-war photographs and scaled architectural drawings of the synagogues.

Ivanka Trump in POLIN Museum

Ivanka Trump visited the Warsaw ghetto memorial on July 6, 2017. She was accompanying her father on his trip to the Polish capital to meet with regional leaders and deliver a speech at Krasinski Square before continuing on to his first G20 summit in Hamburg. 

She then recited the Kaddish prayer with Poland’s chief rabbi Michael Schudrich before touring the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews located next to the memorial.
Schudrich called Ivanka’s presence at the memorial “very, very important… not only because she’s a Jew, because her grandparents-in-law are survivors of the Holocaust, but also as a human being it’s important.” (Source)

Not only a Museum

The Polin Museum celebrated the World Refugee Day (June 20) with a series of events (in Polish):

  • A seminar “Refugees and migrants in the urban space” has been organized by the Polin Museum and Ocalenie Foundation on June 23, 2017. The questions asked during the seminar included the following: “How to speak about refugees and migrants? How to hear their voices? What kind of educational and cultural activities should be organized for them, and what mistakes should be avoided?”
  • A two-day event, “On refugees – anti-discriminatory workshop for adults”, has been organized by the Polin Museum on June 24-25. It provided a space to think about the stereotypes and prejudices pertaining to refugees living in Poland.

Polish Israeli Youth Exchange (PIYE)

Polish Israeli Youth Exchange, which was established in 2006, is POLIN Museum’s first educational project. PIYE, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, serves university students from Poland and Israel. In December 2016, the program’s tenth birthday was celebrated at the residence of Polish Ambassador to Israel, Jacek Chodorowicz.

Also participating were the founders and donors to of the program, Tomek Ulatowski and Ygal Ozechov, who in 2006 turned to POLIN Museum with the idea to create this educational project, a student exchange of young people from Poland and Israel. They’ve since been funding the program every year. Also present, were representatives of PIYE’s partner programs, Dany Levitan and Professor Eyal Zisser, vice provosts of Tel Aviv University, as well as members of the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv, including its director, Krzysztof Kopytko. Tsipy Zeiri is the coordinator of the program in Israel.

POLIN Museum featured at Arte TV

On April 23, 2017, a documentary about the POLIN Museum was featured at the French-German TV channel Arte. Aventure au Musée/Abenteuer Museum. Museum der Geschichte der polnischen Juden, Warschau, a film by Ute Hoffarth, shows the Museum, its creators, and the thriving city around.

Abenteuer Museum

Available online in German on Youtube.

Polish Culture and Politics

Second World War Museum in Gdansk

In March 2017, the Muzeum II Wojny Światowej (Second World War Museum) in Gdansk opened its doors to the audience. As a result of organizational reasons, during the first few weeks the entry was free and thousands of tourists and locals were able to visit the place without paying. Tickets to the Museum begun being available in April.

The institution itself became increasingly controversial when the new Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliniski modified its structure and managing team in 2016. The political issues of these decisions are crucial, as the memory of the Second World War is presented and lived through differently by the former governing party, Civic Platform, and Law and Justice, conservative party in power since 2015.

Controversial Statement of the Polish Prime Minister

On June 14, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, during a ceremony at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, made an awkward statement which has been widely criticised by her political opponents. She said that “In today’s troubled times, Auschwitz is a great lesson that everything must be done to defend the safety and the lives of citizens,” which was understood by her opponents as defending her nationalist government’s anti-migrant policy.

A government spokesman said that these words had been taken out of context, but a tweet highlighting the quote on the ruling Law and Justice party feed was deleted since. A more generous interpretation of the tweet is that Mrs Szydlo wanted to underline the fact that both Polish citizens, either Jewish or non-Jewish, should be protected by the state at all price . In an interview a few days later, Beata Szydlo insisted that there was no relation between what she said and the migrants’ problem.

Jewish life in Poland

WarszAviv – Israeli Cinema in Poland

25 years ago, cities of Tel Aviv and Warsaw signed a partnership. To celebrate this quarter of the century of various cultural and business exchanges, the City of Warsaw and the Israeli Embassy in Poland prepared an Israeli films festival in Warsaw, starting on June 27, and lasting till the end of August.

During the summer, Warsaw becomes “the Capital of Cinema”, and recent Israeli movies are this year a part of these artistic festivities. Every Tuesday evening, on Pole Mokotowskie, locals and tourists will be able to admire contemporary Tel Aviv from the screen.

Read more

Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow

The 27th Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow (June 24th – July 2nd, 2017) was dedicated to Jerusalem. In 1967, after the Six Days War, Jerusalem was reunited. What are social, cultural and finally political outcomes of that fact? What does Jerusalem mean for those, who live in this city and for each and everyone of us? What is the history and present day in the city? Is this more earthly or heavenly Jerusalem?

One week of celebrations of Jewish culture in the centre of Krakow, is a unique event in Europe. The festival ends with an impressive concert with an audience close to 15 000 people. The AEMJP regularly accompanies this event, and in 2018, we invite you to join us in our trip to Poland, guaranteeing among others a privileged access to the Festival.


Professor who wrote of Poles’ complicity in Holocaust defended by other Polish historians

In a letter published in June, Polish historians defended an academic in Canada against charges that his Holocaust research falsifies the history of Poland.

Historians from the Polish Center for Holocaust Research have criticized the Polish League Against Defamation for publishing a letter signed by 134 scientists and others condemning Jan Grabowski’s works describing the participation of Poles in the crimes committed by the Germans during World War II.

Grabowski, the son of a Holocaust survivor, is a professor of history of the Holocaust at the University of Ottawa and the co-founder of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research.

Grabowski’s book Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland was honoured in 2014 with an award from Yad Vashem, “with which the author remains in close contact.” The book, published by the Indiana University Press, documents the involvement of Poles in finding and killing Jews during the Holocaust. It draws on materials from Polish, Jewish and German sources, and focuses on accounts of the fates of individual Jews.

Read more… 

Krakow: Commemoration of Jewish girls expelled by the Nazis

A school in Poland unveils a plaque that commemorates 87 Jewish girls who were expelled in 1939 from an all-girls school in Krakow during the Nazi occupation of the country.

The unveiling of the plaque event in Krakow, that took place on May 23, 2017 and was held to mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of the school, is “one in a growing number of efforts by teachers and children to commemorate the Jews who lived in Poland before the Holocaust, which was perpetrated by Nazi Germany largely in occupied Poland”.

The research project launched by Yad Vashem on the aftermath of the expelling was initiated nearly two years ago by the principal Gabriela Olszowska who contacted the Jerusalem Yad Vashem Institute after finding a trove of records that included a list of the names of those girls expelled on December 9, 1939.

Read more… 

In Memoriam

Halina Paszkowska (1927-2017)

Halina Paszkowska, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the Warsaw Uprising, passed away on Sunday, March 26, 2017. She was the wife of Marian Turski, Vice-Chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland and Chairman of the Museum Council for POLIN Museum.

After the war, throughout the 55 years of her career, from 1952 to 2007, she was actively involved in Polish cinematography; she produced the soundtrack for over 200 documentary films and about 20 feature films. She worked with Andrzej Munk, Roman Polanski, Jerzy Hoffman, and many other outstanding filmmakers. In recognition of her exceptional achievements, Halina was honoured with the Association of Polish Filmmakers Prize for the entirety of her artistic achievements (2010) and the Golden Cross of Merit, the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and the Insurgent Cross.

Ruwen Ogien (1949-2017)

Ruwen Ogien, French moral philosopher, born in a transition camp in Germany to Polish-Jewish parents, former IDF soldier in Beer-Sheva, passed away after a long battle against cancer. He confronted the illness in his latest published book, Mes mille et une nuits (My Thousand & One Nights, Grasset, 2017).

Pour les doloristes, la maladie nous détache de la vie matérielle, et nous met en position de nous élever spirituellement, d’œuvrer à notre perfection personnelle. […]
C’est une affirmation douteuse au mieux, fausse au pire.
Ruwen Ogien, Mes mille et une nuits, p. 226

Liza Shevetz, David Ben-Gurion’s secretary

Liza Shevetz, the veteran secretary of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, passed away at the age of 103. Born as Liza Welbel, Shevetz studied at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Poland, and immigrated to Israel in 1938. She later became the secretary of the leader of the Yishuv Ben-Gurion, who eventually became the first prime minister. She remained his secretary until his retirement from political life.

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