74th Anniversary of establishment of “Żegota” & our Polish Righteous website goes online
The 74th anniversary of the establishment of the Council to Aid Jews “Żegota” was marked, at the POLIN Museum, with a meeting of young people with Elżbieta Ficowska, who told them the story of her rescue from the Holocaust. The event was accompanying with the “unveiling” of the new updated www.sprawiedliwi.org.pl – the website of the Museum’s “The Polish Righteous – Restoring Forgetten Memory” project. This project is dedicated to Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Those who participated in the event included Righteous Among the Nations, as well as Dr Mateusz Szpytma, Vice President of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN)..
Established on 4th December 1942, the Council was set up through the Polish Government-in Exile. It operated as the Temporary Committee to Aid Jews, functioning through as a government department. Its staff comprised members of leftist and democratic political parties, Polish and Jewish organisations, as well as individuals from intelligentsia and Catholic circles. "Żegota” was the only state-sponsored organisation, within occupied Europe, set up with the specific goal of saving Jews and operating within the underground structure. Aid provided took the form of providing financial support, hiding places and false documents. Several thousand people were assisted in this manner, including children who were hidden with Polish families or within orphanages.
A meeting of young people with Elżbieta Ficowska
Each year, on “Żegota’s” anniversary, the POLIN Museum hosts an educational event aimed at young people.During 2012-2014, the event’s honorary guest was the late Władysław Bartoszewski. Since 2015, young people have been meeting Elżbieta Ficowska who, as a child, was rescued by members of “Żegota”. She was carried out of the Warsaw ghetto in a box into which was placed a silver teaspoon engraved with her name and date of birth. Last year, Mrs Ficowska donated to POLIN Museum a replica of her extraordinary, priceless keepsake.
This year’s meeting was preceded by a lecture given by POLIN Museum historian Dr. Krzysztof Persak. He topic related to the circumstances and activities of ”Żegota”, plus the screening the film (The Teaspoon of Life), directed by Michał Nekanda-Trepka, which tell the story of Elżbieta Ficowska’s rescue.
”When I was six months old, short before that terrible July 1942, I was taken out of the ghetto to the “Aryan side” on a cart carrying brick,” she told Klara Jackl and Zofia Mioduszewska during an interview. She paid particular attention to the morality displayed by the Righteous and their courage in view of the challenges which they faced..
Updated "Polish Righteous" website online
The 74th anniversary of “Żegota” presented an appropriate occasion on which the new, updated www.sprawiedliwi.org.pl could be unveiled. It is the internet component of the POLIN Museum’s “Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History” project, which is dedicated to Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
Initiated in 2007 by the Jewish Historical Institute Association in Poland, the website published the stories, faces and voices of the Righteous on the Internet. Almost 1,000 stories of rescue have been published and its database contains several thousand records. This year, the website has received a fundamental facelift.
According to POLIN Museum Deputy Director Jolanta Gumala, "Our website is now more interactive, with improved design and architecture, as well as new functionality. Among its new features is, above all, an advanced search facility, thanks to which our collection of almost 1,000 stories of help can be searched by surname of Righteous or Rescued, by date and place of birth or death, as well as by place and type of aid provided to Jews."
A symbolic ribbon-cutting took place on the stage of the POLIN Museum auditorium, the ribbon being cut by Jolanta Gumula, Elżbieta Ficowska and Józef Walaszczyk, a Righteous Among the Nations and Vice-Chairman of the Polish Righteous Association.
“Our stories had been told at the POLIN Museum for some time now and will also be told here. That fact pleases me that they can also be told using modern mass media“, he said on behalf of the Association which, this year, celebrated its 30th anniversary at the POLIN Museum.
The event concluded with the laying of flowers at the “Żegota” monument, which stands near the entrance to the Museum, near the Ghetto Heroes Monument.
The event was organised by "Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History" project and the POLIN Museum’s Education Centre, in cooperation with March of the Living Canada.
Supported from the Norway and EEA Grants by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The “Polish Righteous” website receives financial support from Tomek Ulatowski, Carmit and Ygal Ozechov.
The patron of “Polish Righteous” website: