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:
"Around Us a Sea of Fire. The fate of Jewish civilians during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" – temporary exhibition
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 5 December 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.
Podcast: "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent"
- March-December 2023
The "eleventh commandment" "Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent" invoked by Marian Turski before the gate of death went around the world. It will serve as a leading motif of the POLIN Museum's new podcast series. 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.
- 22 April – 14 October 2023
On 22 April, symbolic installations marking the spots where the civilians used to hide were installed in six locations within the district of Muranów. We chose six individuals from amongst the protagonists of "Around Us a Sea of Fire" temporary exhibition.
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 and 1.30 PM
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.
- 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. Dr. Zachary Mazur, a Senior Historian of POLIN Museum, will meet and talk to the descendants.
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.
Series of six film etudes – personal portraits that are a record of contemporary encounters with Warsaw Ghetto Survivors and people who have experienced the legacy of the Ghetto saved in family history, objects and urban space.
The film series "In search of living memory: film encounters with witnesses to the Warsaw Ghetto" is an attempt to capture authentic, living memory: a corporeal and emotional memory associated with individual experience. The memories also have a somatic character, anchored in the body. Memory and remembering are often problematic processes that also consist of gaps, discontinuities, contradictions, imagination and attempts to reconstruct – one's own fate, family or social history. The filmed personal portraits are a documentary showing the impact of the direct and mediated experience of the Warsaw Ghetto on the identity of the protagonists at different stages of their lives.
- Idea and implementation: Józef Markiewicz / POLIN Museum.
Heroes and heroines of the series:
- Irena Agata Bołdok.
- Barbara Góra.
- Hanna Szmalenberg.
- Ludwik Górski and Joanna Podgórska.
- Irena Landau.
- Aleksandra Sobiecka.
Publications accompanying the program
Photographs from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Zbigniew Leszek Grzywaczewski and Rudolf Damec
- Premiere: September 2023
A set of two photo albums which present the most precious, so far unknown photos of the Uprising seen from two different perspectives—inside the ghetto (the only such photos to be taken by someone other than the German perpetrators themselves) and from the ‘Aryan’ side. With a commentary by Jacek Leociak and Barbara Engelking.
Marian Berland, "Dni długie jak wieki. Świadectwo z ukrycia od powstania w getcie warszawskim 1943–1944" ["Days as Long as Centuries. A Testament of Hiding During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising"]
- Premiere: 11 April 2023, BUY NOW >>
Gruesome memoir of a Polish Jew, written in 1944 on commission of the ‘Żegota’ activists while in hiding on the ‘Aryan’ side. According to Marian Turski, Berland’s book is one of the most important Holocaust testimonies to be published in Polish.
With introduction by Marian Turski and afterword by Barbara Engelking. Published in cooperation with KARTA Center, in the KARTA series titled "Żydzi polscy" ["Polish Jews"].
"Kwestia charakteru. Bojowniczki z getta warszawskiego" ["Question of Character. Female Fighters from the Warsaw Ghetto"] – edited by Sylwia Chutnik and Monika Sznajderman.
- Premiere: 12 April 2023
The book is devoted to women fighters who thus far were mentioned briefly by first names only, often as comrades of their male friends. The authors are: Kalina Błażejowska, Katarzyna Czerwonogóra, Agnieszka Dauksza, Patrycja Dołowy, Agnieszka Glińska, Hanka Grupińska, Agnieszka Haska, Natalia Judzińska, Magdalena Kozłowska, Joanna Ostrowska, Karolina Sulej, Anna Szyba, Karolina Szymaniak, Monika Tutak-Goll, with an introduction by Zuzanny Hertzberg.
Published in cooperation with Czarne Publishing House.
"Wokół nas morze ognia" ["Around Us a Sea of Fire"] – edited by Barbara Engelking and Zuzanna Schnepf-Kołacz
- Premiere: 16 April 2023, BUY NOW >>
The volume accompanies the temporary exhibition "Around Us a Sea of Fire. The Fate of Jewish Civilians During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" at POLIN Museum. In this richly illustrated, album-like publication, the authors—including both distinguished historians specialising in the Holocaust, and writers such as Hanna Krall, Andrzej Leder or Mikołaj Grynberg—reflect on the theme of the exhibition.