Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent
Around Us a Sea of Fire temporary exhibition, 11th edition of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Campaign in six cities, workshops with Loesje, outdoor artistic activities, a meeting with Martín Caparrós, academic conferences and numerous educational workshops are merely a fraction of events we have planned for the year 2023 as part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
19 April marks the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. On that day in 1943, on the eve of Passover, 50,000 people were still imprisoned in the area of the Warsaw ghetto—among them 20-year old Mietek Pachter, 21-year old Mira Piżyc and 11-year old Helena Kuczer (Krystyna Budnicka). They were no fighters, just like very many others in the ghetto. And yet, their silent resistance was just as important as participating in armed combat. What happened to the tens of thousands of people who descended to underground bunkers during the Uprising and remained unreachable for many days?
The 80th anniversary is a point of departure for us not only to commemorate those who perished in the Warsaw ghetto, but also to listen to the stories of those who survived. Our program for the year 2023 will allow us to acquire a critical perspective on history as well as to look at the present day and into the future—which is what Marian Turski encouraged us all to do on 27 January 2020 when he reminded us of the so-called eleventh commandment—a message from his friend Roman Kent: "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent."
We are going to strive to introduce this commandment into our daily lives—both symbolically and practically—by means of the exhibition, numerous events, activities and publications, and the engagement of many people from the world of art and science. We are very keen to honour the eleventh commandment, because if we don’t:
"we will not even notice it when upon our own heads, and upon the heads of our descendants, ‘another Auschwitz’ falls from the sky".
Program of events:
POLIN, Loesje – creative workshops
- 4 and 18 February
We invite you to a series of the Loesje creative writing workshops, centred around the message "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent". The most inspiring slogans will become posters signed with Loesje’s name and will find their way into public spaces.
Academic session on the subject: "The Studies on Hunger Disease in the Warsaw Ghetto"
- 15 March 2023, 12 noon-8 PM
We invite you to an academic session to commemorate the work of the Warsaw Ghetto doctors and to highlight the importance of their research into the hunger disease. The session will be complemented by a lecture addressed to the general public, delivered by a globally-recognised Argentinian journalist Martín Caparrós, author of the outstanding work titled "Hunger".
"Around Us a Sea of Fire. The fate of Jewish civilians during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" – temporary exhibition
- 18 April 2023 - 8 January 2024
We will open the exhibition on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. For the first time ever, we present the hitherto untold story of the Uprising—we give the floor to the civilians who were hiding inside the ghetto. Against the despair, hunger, fear, inhuman living conditions, they fought "for every day, every hour, every minute" of staying alive. Their resistance was just as vital as armed combat in the streets of the ghetto.
Author of the exhibition concept: Prof. B. Engelking, exhibition curator: Z. Schnepf-Kołacz.
2023 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Campaign. The civilians
- 19 April 2023
It is the 11th edition of the social-educational campaign organised by POLIN Museum, this year under the slogan "Remembering Together". This year, the leading motif are the civilians. Volunteers will distribute paper daffodils—symbol of the remembrance of the Ghetto Uprising—in the streets of Warsaw. In 2023, for the first time ever, the daffodils will also be distributed by volunteers in five other Polish cities: Łódź, Kraków, Wrocław, Białystok and Lublin.
We have also planned a wide selection of events to accompany the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Campaign and the program around the "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent. 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" commemoration, to be held on 16-22 April. The program of events will be published in the first half of March 2023.
European Jews Facing Imminent Genocide – international academic conference
- 23-25 April 2023
The aim of the conference is to identify and describe the experience of a Jewish life in the face of an imminent and inevitable threat of the Genocide. How did the news of mass killings spread? How did the Jews adapt to extreme conditions? What was their daily life like under these conditions? What were their experiences and emotions, and their awareness of the fate that awaited them?
"There was no hope. Vereint in der Erinnerung" – concert
- 12 May 2023, 10 AM, 12 noon
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Beethovern Orchestra Bonn invites you to two unique concerts which will commemorate the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto with pieces composed by, i.a., Władysław Szpilman, Mieczyslaw Wajnberg and Josima Feldschuh.
Millennium Docs Against Gravity
- 12-14 May 2023
Millennium Docs Against Gravity is the biggest documentary film festival in Poland and one of the biggest in the world. In 2023, one of its parts will be dedicated to the slogan "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent", both in relation to historical and contemporary themes.
Forum Theatre "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent" – performance for the youth preceded by workshops
- workshops: March-May
- performance: 15 May 2023
Forum Theatre presents stories told by young people, teenagers. In the museum-theatre space they have created, they will work with topics that are important to them, with what hurts them, what they would like to change, what they are not indifferent to.
"Still Standing" – performance
- 16 May 2023
"Still Standing" is a performative action in which the body is treated as a vehicle of memory and a living sculpture emerging in relation to place. The performance enters into a dialogue with historical choreography by Israeli choreographer Noa Eshkol, prepared by her for the 10th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and presented in 1953 at the Lohamei ha-geta'ot (Ghetto Fighters) kibbutz in Israel. The event will be realised in collaboration with the residents of Muranów, in reference to the date of the demolition of the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie.
Remembering the Roma Holocaust – educational course
- June-August 2023
An educational course dedicated to the Roma Holocaust is based on "Around Us a Sea of Fire" temporary exhibition. Its peak falls in August 2023, the month in which we commemorate the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day.
- September-November 2023
The choreographic walks offer a different, bodily, experience-based exploration of the exhibition. It enables both the activation of senses different from those usually used while visiting exhibitions and the focus on a selected aspect of a sensual experience—the sharpening, if you will, of a particular sense. The walks will be guided by Weronika Pelczyńska.
Polish-Ukrainian workshops on the memory of war. Historic and contemporary contexts
- October-November 2023
The starting point for the workshop is memory—the memory of life in the Jewish ghettos during the Second World War and the contemporary life in war-torn Ukrainian cities. We will reflect on these two perspectives based on the individual stories of Jews and Ukrainians. The workshop will be partly based on the temporary exhibition.
The Forms of Resistance. What shared memory are we building? – educational conference
- 27-29 October 2023
Resistance during World War Two took various forms of disobeying the orders of the occupying force, and yet the armed combat plays a major role in our collective memory. Resistance of the civilian population involved massive risks. How is such an approach to understanding acts of resistance reflected in education, looking at history and shaping today’s patriotic gestures? Participants of the POLIN Museum educational conference devoted to the history of the civilian population in the ghetto will seek answers to these and other questions.
Warsaw Jewish Film Festival
- 23-29 October 2023
The Warsaw Jewish Film Festival is a review of the latest international cinema with a competition of features and documentaries dealing with "Jewish themes" in a broad sense. The Festival is a meeting place where the present is portrayed as stemming from history. In 2023, the Festival leading motif will be "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent".
- November-December 2023
A musical-performative project of the POLIN Choir prepared in reference to the content of the temporary exhibition. The POLIN Choir is a community choir that has been associated with POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews since 2014. In each consecutive project, the choir strives to take a few steps forward or a few steps sideways in relation to its previous realisations.
POLIN Award Gala
- second half of November 2023
The POLIN Award competition’s goal is to promote attitudes and actions which are in line with POLIN Museum’s mission. The laureates are individuals or organisations whose activities help protect the memory of the history of Polish Jews and contribute to shaping a common future, mutual understanding and respect. The Award has been granted since 2015. The year 2023 is a special time to honour those who are not indifferent.
Annual series of events
In 2023, as part of the program accompanying "Around Us a Sea of Fire" exhibition, we will invite you to events held within a series of meetings—both on-site, at POLIN Museum, and online.
Series of discussions: "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent"
- March-December 2023
The "eleventh commandment" "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent" will serve as a leading motif of the series of discussions. In it, we will strive to look at indifference from various perspectives and ponder over what it really is, and what it is not. Is it our attitude to the surroundings, the reality, or rather an attitude towards something, or somebody? What are the sources of indifference? What does indifference lead to, or what it may lead to? Is it a moral imperative of sorts, an obligation, a civilizational stamp, an internal impulse, an individual want? All discussions will be moderated by Karolina Wigura.
POLIN Reading Room
- March-December 2023
A series of meetings devoted to new publications dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
- workshops: March-June 2023
A series of creative workshops for the youth, dedicated to the topics raised in the exhibition "Around Us a Sea of Fire". The subject of diaries written by young people in various ghettoes as well as the issue of growing up in the difficult ghetto conditions will be raised. Workshops’ final will take place in June.
Tours of the temporary exhibition
- April-December 2023, selected Sundays each month, 2 PM
- tours of "Around Us a Sea of Fire" exhibition with the POLIN Museum guides
Guided tours of the temporary exhibition "Around Us a Sea of Fire"
- April-December 2023, selected Saturdays each month, 12 noon
A series of guided tours whose participants will have an opportunity to learn about their guides’ personal approach towards "Around Us a Sea of Fire" exhibition. The guides represent various fields: academia, art, education and critical studies. The tours will be guided by, among others, the authors of the exhibition.
"Untold Stories", "Unsung Heroes" series
- September-November 2023
Three meetings with the descendants of the protagonists of "Around Us a Sea of Fire" exhibition—the civilians who survived the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising inside the ghetto and shared their experiences on the pages of memoirs. Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the POLIN Core Exhibition, will meet and talk to the descendants.
- May-October 2023
A series of urban walks dedicated to the history of the Warsaw ghetto. We will follow the boundaries of the ghetto and look for their traces. We will get acquainted with stories of rescue of children, as well as with Muranów-related herstories.
Women resisting the German occupying force in the Warsaw ghetto
- March-May, online
The speakers—Polish female scholars, writers and activists—will look at the history of the Warsaw ghetto from the point of view of women and gender. The participants and the speakers will together ponder over the question why thus far, the history of resistance in the ghetto left the women out of the picture and what is the role of gender in understanding the history of the ghetto.
Workshops for local leaders and educators at "Around us a Sea of Fire" exhibition
- May-August 2023
The course program has been designed for educators and local leaders active in the field of interculturalism and/or Jewish heritage. The workshops will enable them to deepen their knowledge and develop their skills. It will also encourage networking.
Educational workshops for schools
Workshops realised as part of the POLIN Museum educational offer for the academic year 2023/2024, both on-site and online. Thanks to the workshops, young people will have a better understanding of the historical processes and will become sensitive to the manifestations of exclusion from society of people who are in some way different from the majority. They will realise that in order to change the world they must not be indifferent.
Oral History: new film productions and publications
From April onwards, we will invite you to watch film premieres and follow publications of new texts on the portals: Virtual Shtetl and Polish Righteous. We will present individual portraits of the witnesses of the Warsaw ghetto, we will publish the results of our research into the iconography of the ghettoes in occupied Poland. We are also working on a new series of articles on the attitudes of Poles towards the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, including new stories of help provided by, among others, Andrzej and Czesław Miłosz, Julian Grobelny and Maria Kann.