Nominated for the 2020 POLIN Award: Justyna Biernat

fot. Maciek Jaźwiecki / Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

Justyna Biernat is the founder of the Arcades of Memory Foundation. Through numerous activities in the fields of both academia and culture, she has been involved in the preservation of the memory of Tomaszów Mazowiecki Jewry for many years now. Justyna carries out educational-artistic projects, organizes guided tours of the area of the former Tomaszów ghetto, publishes scholarly articles and remains in touch with the descendants of Jews from Tomaszów. She has published texts devoted to the Jewish history of Tomaszów in both Polish and English on the Foundation webpage.

Justyna addresses her activities involving education through art to a multi-generational public. Performances, performative readings, musical audio-guides, dramatic texts and fairy tales boast many authors—Justyna is a proponent of the idea of work which engages the audience. Such work always refers to historic materials which the participants of the workshop compile together with their own family archives.

Justyna Biernat regularly meets with the oldest residents of the town and collects their stories of ethnically diverse prewar Tomaszów. Together with the Foundation, she published three books: "Sen o teatrze. Listy z tomaszowskiego getta" [A Dream of Theatre. Letters from the Tomaszów ghetto, in which she edited the letters sent by Lutek Orenbach), "Echa Zagłady. Fragmenty pamiętnika" [Echoes of the Holocaust. Excerpts from a Diary] by Mira Ryczke-Kimmelman (Justyna wrote the preface and edited the Polish edition of the author’s memoir) and "Czarne sylwetki. Przewodnik po tomaszowskim getcie / Black silhouettes. Guide to the Tomaszów Mazowiecki ghetto" (she edited the first edition of the guidebook along with the map of the local ghetto).

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