After the brilliant lecture by social and political psychologist, Michal Bilewicz, we went to the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I was quite impressed with the architecture of the building and the unique galleries that documented and celebrated the thousand-year history of the Jewish community in Poland, which was almost entirely destroyed during the Holocaust. The exhibition included a multimedia narrative with many interactive pieces, beautiful paintings, and oral histories brilliantly created by scholars and curators.
There was a lot of pertinent information being presented in this museum. The first gallery tells the tale of how the Jews came to Poland, ultimately fleeing from persecution to a welcoming safe haven. The second gallery shows how and when the first Jewish settlers in Poland came to be. The third gallery presents how the Jewish community was organized and what role Jews played in the country’s economy. The fourth gallery presents the history of Polish Jews until the period of the partitions. The next exhibition was the role played by Jewish entrepreneurs, such as Izrael Poznański (the industrialist who has the biggest Mosuleum in Łódź Jewish cemetery). The next three galleries talk about the Second Polish Republic, the Holocaust , and the postwar years in Poland.
I thought it was interesting that the Hebrew word Polin in the museum’s name means “rest here” and is related to a legend on the arrival of the first Jewish settlers. I was also amazed to find out that the museum was located in Warsaw’s prewar Jewish quarter and the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto, facing the Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes.
After walking through Warsaw, imagining the lives of the people who lived and harshly died here, made a profound impact on me. The museum presented me with more historical background on Jewish community and life with their struggles here in Poland. I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about the history of Poland and it’s inhabitants.