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Friday, June 21, 2024

Bialystok. The only such “place” in the city. It was established to cultivate the memory of Bialystok Jews. But not only

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On one of the walls there is a large color photo showing the panorama of the city from August 1943 – the houses of the ghetto where the uprising broke out a few days earlier are on fire. Right next to the entrance there is a wardrobe with bottles – on one of them there is a label with the inscription “Lubomlska pejsachówka”. And on the ceiling there is a model of the Great Synagogue hanging “upside down”. This is the “Place” that was created in Białystok, i.e. a kind of – although its creator does not like this word – a mini-museum where you can move in time.

– When Jews who wanted to get to know the city of their ancestors came to Białystok, the question about the place was asked many times. When I asked what place they wanted, they said about a place dedicated to Białystok Jews, where you can see souvenirs or come to a meeting – says Tomasz Wiśniewski from Białystok, a lover of the history of the region, author of books and films on Jewish topics.

Together with other members of the Association of the Museum of the Jews of Białystok, he launched a small premises at ul. Modlińska 6 “Place”. So – although Wiśniewski does not like the word “museum” – something like a mini-museum. Earlier, for many years he tried to convince various cultural institutions to his idea, but ultimately nothing came of it. First, the virtual Social Museum of the Jews of Białystok and the Region was created (on the website: www.jewishbialystok.pl), and now the stationary “Place”. All from private funds and as part of the activities of the aforementioned association.

You can learn about the characters who made up the pre-war Jewish community Tomasz Mikulicz

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They also want to deal with the history of the Grodno region

– We are not closed to Jewish topics only. We are also interested in the broadly understood neighborhood of cultures. We are going to deal with the history of the Grodno region, because before World War II, Grodno was part of the Białystok Voivodeship – tells us Wiśniewski.

When we enter the “Place” immediately catches the eye – standing on the left side of the door – a cabinet with bottles.

– These bottles “remember” mostly the twentieth century between the wars, and some also tsarist times. They come from breweries in Białystok, Grodno or Knyszyn. There are also pharmacy bottles and mineral water bottles – says our interlocutor.

One of the bottles bears the label “Lubomlska pejsachówka”Tomasz Mikulicz

On one of them, a decorative label with the inscription “Lubomlska pejsachówka” has been preserved.

– As the name suggests, it comes from the village of Luboml, in the area Ukrainewhere the famous distillery operated before World War II – says Wiśniewski.

Everyone gets candy. Wrapped in paper as before the war

He also shows us a chest on which papers were glued, which were used to wrap pre-war candies produced by the Jewish company of Szwarcberg from Gródek (a town located about 30 km from Białystok).

The box is covered with pre-war wrapping paper used to wrap the sweets Tomasz Mikulicz

– We are working on the reconstruction of these papers and I hope that soon the guests who will visit us will be able to take out candies packed in such papers from this box – he points out.

You can see the works of Stanisław Żywolewski

On the wall next to it, there are graphics by the recently deceased Stanisław Żywolewski (the author of the famous painting depicting the Holy Family with the note “Jews” – editor’s note).

These are the graphics by Stanisław Żywolewski about what happened during the war in Łapy near Białystok Tomasz Mikulicz

The graphics show scenes that took place in Łapy near Białystok, where trains going from Białystok to Treblinka slowed down a bit, so Jews tried to escape from them. They also threw their children out of train windows in the hope that they would be saved.

Read also: Aerial photos of Polish cities from a hundred years ago. “Sentimental journey through a reborn country”

Photos as a history lesson

In “Place” you can also see – assembled from three photographs – a large color photograph taken in August 1943 from the fire tower on Warszawska Street. It has a panoramic view of the city. A few days earlier, an uprising had broken out in the Bialystok ghetto. Burning buildings can be seen in the background.

The photo shows a panorama of the city in August 1943 Tomasz Mikulicz

Tomasz Wiśniewski says that watching this photo is an excellent history lesson.

– It teaches not only knowledge about the city, but also recognition of the city. Of the objects immortalized here, only four have survived to our times – he points out.

Tomasz Wiśniewski: looking at this photo, we can try to decipher what has survived to our timesTomasz Mikulicz

Visualizations of synagogues, a comic book about Józef Bartoszko

There is also another photo from August 1943. It shows a motorized German column heading along Warszawska Street towards the ongoing fighting. Another photo shows one of the three gates leading to the ghetto – the one at the intersection of today’s Lipowa and Malmeda streets.

In “The Place” we can also see visualizations of some of the 76 synagogues that existed in Białystok years ago. There is also a photo from June 27, 1941, which shows the burning Great Synagogue.

You can also read a comic book about a man who, together with his wife, led Jews out of a burning synagogue Tomasz Mikulicz

“This day was remembered as a prelude to the martyrdom of Białystok Jews filled with terror and final annihilation,” reads the description attached to the photo.

The comic book “The Man Who Opened the Door. The Forgotten Story of Józef Bartoszko and His Family” is also about these dramatic events, with the screenplay written by Tomasz Wiśniewski. Until June 1941, Józef Bartoszko, together with his wife Julianna, took care of the building of the Great Synagogue. They lived nearby and, although they were not Jews, they cleaned the synagogue, so they had the keys to it. after Germany they bolted the entrances and the building burst into flames, they managed to open the door and save a dozen or so Jews.

Everyone can look after their “memory drawer”

It is worth noting that in “The Place” a project called “Białystok memory drawers” is being implemented. The point is that in old suitcases – or any other boxes – memorabilia of famous Bialystok Jews are collected, and these memorabilia are taken care of by interested people.

The project “Bialystok memory drawers” is being implementedTomasz Mikulicz

For example, the “memory drawer” left by the well-known photographer Józef Sołowiejczyk was taken care of by the collector Mieczysław Marczak, and the “drawer” left by the Kaufman family (from which family Dawid Kaufman, known in the world of cinema as Dziga Wiertow – editor’s note) came film by Maciej Randt and Tomasz Adamski.

– Anyone who has an emotional bond with a given character can participate in the project – it can be, for example, Nora Ney or even a shoemaker – emphasizes Tomasz Wiśniewski.

Movie screenings in the basement. Opening hours sign coming soon

He adds that the association has a huge collection, which will be gradually presented. He is also looking for new ones, and still people come forward who have found some souvenirs in their homes and want to show them.

– An interesting fact about “Place” is the model of the Great Synagogue hanging “upside down” from the ceiling – shows our interlocutor.

A model of the Great Synagogue hangs on the ceiling Tomasz Mikulicz

Read also: In one of the books of the “Lublin Amber Room” there was a letter from the 1930s. “The grandson wrote to his grandmother about death in the family”

In the basement there is a room intended for organizing meetings or showing movies. These meetings are held on Fridays at 18. During the one that took place on June 2, you could watch a unique film from 1920 showing what the city and people looked like at that time.

Soon, a sign with opening hours will appear on the entrance door to “Place”. You can read about what is happening there on the aforementioned website: www.jewishbialystok.pl.

They were watching a 1920 movie Tomasz Mikulicz

Main photo source: Tomasz Mikulicz

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