A Jewish museum in Poland
WARSAW -- An empty lawn in the heart of what was once the Warsaw Ghetto will soon become a place not only of mourning, but of celebrating the Jewish life that flourished in Poland before it was destroyed in the Holocaust.Dear Wife and I have a number of Polish born friends. All of whom are Catholic, like most people from Poland. These friends while horrified by what was done by the Nazis, at the same time don't miss the Jews that lived in their country. I don't know if that's a widespread feeling or not.
President Lech Kaczynski will break ground tomorrow for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. It sits on a highly charged site -- next to the city's monument to the Jews who resisted the Nazis during the 1943 ghetto uprising, and just down the street from the rail siding where many were deported to their deaths.
The multimedia museum will have exhibits on the Holocaust, but organizers say its primary purpose is to remember the vibrant Jewish community that flourished in Poland for a thousand years despite varying degrees of anti-Semitism and discrimination.
The building, an austere glass and limestone structure designed by Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamaki and Ilmari Lahdelma, will feature a jagged chasm that cuts through the entire museum, and an interior of undulating forms that alludes to Moses's parting of the Red Sea while fleeing slavery in Egypt -- symbolic of Jewish survival in the face of catastrophe.
When it opens in two years, Polish and Jewish leaders hope it will become a cultural landmark in a league with Jerusalem's Yad Vashem, the United States' Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and Berlin's Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial.
To many, such a center is long overdue in a country that had Europe's largest Jewish community until World War II, numbering about 3.3 million, or 10 percent of the total population. The society produced a vibrant Yiddish-speaking culture and a string of great scientists, writers, and thinkers.
Poland is also where Nazi Germany built Auschwitz, Treblinka, and the other extermination camps where 6 million Jews -- half of them Polish -- were killed.
Yet Jewish history and suffering were taboo themes for decades under communist rule, which collapsed in 1989. Only about 30,000 Jews live in Poland today.
Dear wife and I visited Poland in 2000. While there we saw Auschwitz, the gloomiest place I ever been to in my life. While in Krakow, we also briefly entered a Jewish synagogue. There aren't many left in that city, and a rabbi shooed out of the place of worship after only a few moments there. Frankly, neither I or the Polish priest accompanying the wife and I, were wearing a yarmulke. Which all males are supposed to wear in a synagogue. My BIL Marty is Jewish, and I wore a yarmulke at my sister's wedding in 1983. When in Rome or a synagogue.....
Also note, Warsaw was flattened by the Nazis during WWII. Very little is left of the city prior to 1939. Krakow on the other hand suffered suffered much less damage from the war. Like St. Mary's Square pictured here.
Linked to- Maggie, Right Voices, Yankee Sailor,