Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Krakow [1]

Arrived here safely after a pleasant train ride down. Before boarding the train we heard from Jerzy Halberstadt, the director of the to be built Museum of Polish Jewish History. He spoke very powerfully about how the museum might serve the purpose of recording history and the challenges it faces in speaking to the Polish Catholic, Israeli teenager, American Jews, Japanese tourist, and everyone else.

The design is powerful and the way in which they recognize that their job is not to tell the story of the Holocaust but to send the visitor out -- prepared with the right context -- to Auschwitz, Majdanek, and all the other terrible places associated with this history.

Off to meet with Professors Annamaria Orla-Bukovska and Jolanta Aambrosewicz-jacobs who teach at the Jagellonian University. Jolanta is also a consultant to the Auschwitz museum. They are bringing 4 Polish students from the Jagellonian who study the Holocaust.

Should be a good evening on which to build after our conversations of the previous few days.


Tamar Orvell said...

I love how the Museum is designed, as an idea with a purpose and as a public space. I fully appreciate the IDEA and PURPOSE, especially after getting this email from a young African-American professional basketball player (whom I've known since he was six years old) who is winning points for an Israeli team this season.

On his return from Yad Vashem, Josh wrote to me (excerpts here) "...I JUST got home from the Jerusalem trip! Wow it was the best. ... we went to The Holocaust Museum. 6 millions Jews and over died, and over 3 million of them from Poland! [Josh played basketball in Poland last year.] We had a 3 hour tour lady and she was the best. The sites I seen I will never forget again. The devil had to be full force in Hitler for him to get an entire country to abide through all of this. [Josh is a devout Christian.} The most interesting fact was during ONE of the gas chambers in Germany, only 30-40 Nazis ran the camp. And over an entire year, well 13 months, 900,000 Jews died just through 30-40 men's doing. Also I didn't know that American knew what was going on, not from the beginning, but they knew during the stages of this and did nothing. Besides a few bombs in not affective areas. All they had to do was bomb Auszchtwhich and the railroads that took the Jews to the gas chambers. They came when it was all said and done and acted like they were shocked?! I mean I am sure some were but still. I didn't really know how much Poland was hit. The towns they did it in, I seen those towns every road game and not knowing history was there 60-65 years ago. They had the "Ghetto" in Warsaw. How they did those people I will never forget. When the people were dead, they had a bull doz er like they do snow and just piled and pushed the dead people into these caves that they made. Aw man that time had to be one of the worst periods ever. The tour lady made sure we knew everything so we can continue on the story for generations to come! I'm glad I took the opportunity...."

Later, when I caught up with Josh, I asked, Didn't you learn this in high school? In college? in life? His reply: Yes, I knew about much though I didn't "get it" until I went on that tour in Yad Vashem.


Unknown said...

Let's compare the name « Museum of the History of Polish Jews » (1) with the name of the Paris « musée d'Art et d'histoire du judaïsme » (2)

* The Polish museum is "Polish", the French museum is not "French"

* The Polish museum is "history only", The French museum is "history + art" (since 1998 - from 1948 to 1998 it was "art only"), including for example an exhibition a few months ago on Jewish American authors of Comic Books, including authors of the 1990's.


Ericnave said...


Vive la difference.

To see examples of Jewish art in Poland I recommend the national musem in Warsaw