Postwar Years (1944 to the present)
Only about 300 thousand Polish Jews survived the war. In the uncertain time that followed, the question of whether to stay or to leave the country remained a burning issue for most of them. Some escaped illegally to Palestine, where they played an important role in the creation of the State of Israel. Those who remained in Poland made efforts to rebuild the destroyed life of the Jewish community and to preserve the memory of those who perished. The gallery will present, amongst other things, the history of the making and unveiling of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in 1948.
Although as years went by there were fewer and fewer Jews in Poland as a result of emigration and assimilation, the Jewish community continued to be active in various fields. The gallery presents both the cultural and educational activities of the Socio-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland and the achievements of writers and artists who identified with Jewish as well as Polish culture.
During the anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968, many Jews were forced to leave the country forever. We will present both the causes and mechanisms of the wave of anti-Semitic feeling, growing since 1967, accounts of the March events as well as testimonies and mementos of the March emigrants, along with their reflections immediately upon leaving Poland.
After 1989, Jewish culture and history came to occupy an important place in the minds of Poles, as the numerous artistic projects and publications presented in the last part of the gallery confirm. Universities are offering courses and degrees in Jewish Studies, and Poland has become a popular destination for Jews from all over the world. As they leave the last section of the gallery, visitors will be drawn into a discussion about identity and the place of memory in the life of Polish Jews today.
Lead Historians: dr Helena Datner (Department of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Warsaw), prof. Stanisław Krajewski (Department of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Warsaw).
The design and execution of the core exhibition was financed and overseen by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, thanks to the support of donors from all over the world.