Monday, October 17, 2011

Poland - art and memory. Page of History Foundation

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I have to admit that I had never heard of the Page of History Foundation and its interesting project linking art and commemoration  until I read a recent  article in the Jewish Chronicle about an art work it just unveiled in the town of Gora Kalwaria (Yiddish Ger) south of Warsaw -- a sculpture depicting Adam and Eve by the Polish artist Bronislaw Krzysztof.

The year was 1990, Communism had just collapsed in Poland and John Pomian, a Pole living in the UK, was on a return visit to his country of origin with a Jewish friend, Casimir Stamirski.

As the pair passed through the town of Mogielnica, Mr Pomian, who served in the RAF during the war, was invited by Mr Stamirski to stop off in the town to see they could find any traces of the Jewish community that once thrived there.

There was nothing to be found. As they returned to their car, they spotted a large boulder bearing the names of locals who died during the Second World War. There were no Jewish names among them.

On his return to London, Mr Pomian decided something had to be done to commemorate the presence of Jews in Poland, who, he says, "have shared our history for centuries". In 1991, Mr Pomian set up the Page of History Foundation, which aimed to install works of art in towns where Jews once lived as gestures of remembrance "from Poles towards Polish Jews".
 Read full article HERE
The foundation's web site describes its purpose as commemorating the Jewish presence in Poland "through funding works of art authored by recognized artists and making these available to a wider public."

It states that the Foundation's four basic principles are:
--  this is to be a Polish gesture towards the Jews, who shared our history for centuries and made their contribution to the development of Polish culture and commercial life.

--  this is to be a completely private undertaking and we will not be seeking any money from public funds.

--  we will commemorate Polish Jews through works of art of the highest and lasting aesthetic merit.

-- the inspiration for these works will be the Old Testament, which is the sacred scripture of both Christians and Jews.
Besides in Gora Kalwaria, works of art have been put up since 1995 in Warsaw, Szydlow, Lodz and Zamosc.

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