Nominated for 2020 POLIN Award: Paweł Kulig
Paweł Kulig has been looking after the New Jewish Cemetery on Bracka Street in Łódź for eight years now. Since 2019 he is the Chair of the Guardians of Memory Association whose aim is to preserve the cultural and historical heritage of Łódź Jewry.
With the area of 40 ha, the New Jewish Cemetery in Łódź is the largest Jewish necropolis in Poland and second largest in Europe, boasting approximately 160,000 tombstones. To face the challenge of tending to such a large area, Paweł Kulig has built a circle of allies and associates with whom he fights for the memory and appearance of this unique place.
Thanks to his charisma and energy, people of different backgrounds and professions join in the activities he initiates, and the subsequent tidying-up actions attract more and more people. What is important, many young people participate in tidying-up the cemetery, thus shaping the right attitude of respect towards the shared heritage.
Thanks to Paweł’s efforts, in 2020 the action of tidying-up the cemetery secured an honorary patronage of the Mayor of Łódź Hanna Zdanowska. In order to formalise his activities and extend their scope, Paweł Kulig established the Guardians of Memory Association which pursues its goals by organising voluntary and charity actions as well as meetings, workshops, lectures, exhibitions, concerts and educational walks.
For years, Paweł Kulig has also been helping the descendants of Łódź Jews to discover their family history and the fate of their loved ones. For many of them, he has located the graves of their ancestors. He remains in close contact with the landsmanschaft of the Jews from Łódź in Israel. In 2019, Paweł was presented with a special diploma in recognition of his actions from the Forum of Polish Jews in Israel. He was also honoured with the “Rekindle the Memory” badge granted to Poles who help salvage the Jewish Heritage.