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"To Bring Memory Back" edition 2006-2007

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Who are we

POZNAŃ – Non-Public Elementary and Junior High School No 4
We are one of four non-public schools in Poznan, which works for 15 years now.
Our Junior High together with the Non-Public Elementary School makes about 300 students’ Complex known in Poznan as the Non-Public Four.
The project is being realized by 10 students from third grade.
The school is very small land all students know each other well. Some attend it for nine years. That’s why after graduating absolvents visit the school very often and some of them keep in touch even after years. Our Junior High does not have a profile, but it is regarded as a good one. The programme is broadened with many English lessons.


Why we do this project

Every year the third-graders engage themselves into learning about Jewish culture and present the effect to all other. Two years ago some of us participated (together with third-graders of the time) in March of the Living. Last year three-grade students were involved, in their own way, in a discussion on future of the synagogue building in Wroniecka St. The discussion was caused by a Member of European Parliament Marcin Libicki’s statement, suggesting demolishing of the building.  At our school the third-graders presented history of the synagogue where from Word War II a pool is located and carried out a survey how the building should be used. All students’ proposals were sent to the City Hall. Aldermen thanked us but could not say if the Council supports rebuilding of the synagogue.

Our class in the first semester participated in workshops lead by Joanna Brzezinska from Poland-Israel Committee on Jewish culture. In this semester we’ve decided to do a research on history of Poznan’s Jews – where they lived, what was their engagement, which places in the city are most connected with them.

We’ve decided also to participate in even bigger undertaking – in the Project „Bring Memory Back”. The title corresponds with the main aim, which we take – of realizing, maybe helping others to realize, that Poznan is not only a city of two nations (Polish and German), but of  three – one must include Jews too.  That’s why our project is called “Atlantis”: something what had existed and has completely vanished. The title is taken from an installation, which in Poznan ASP professor, Janusz Marciniak realized in the building of an old synagogue (today’s swimming pool) on occasion of Judaism Days in 2004. Our history teacher told us on the surface of the water there was a burning Star of David, laid with several hundred candles.

Jewish community in our town

Although we did not know about it, not only we’ve decided to learn about Jewish community in our city. In September was published a “Chronic of City of Poznan” commemorating Poznan’s Jews.On the occasion of the 10th Judaism Days organized in Poznan the city museum prepared a great exhibition about Jews in 19th and 20th century. Now we know that the first traces of Jewish population in Poznan can be dated to 14th century. Alas, after a time of acceptation and common understanding, nationalistic tensions caused the isolation of Jewish district. Local authorities have set zoning for housing limited by following streets: Stawna, Wroniecka, Zydowska and Mokra. Situation changed in the beginning of the 19th century, when the Jews were bestowed with civil rights by Prussian government. Jewish tenement-houses and synagogues started to appear in a great number. After World War I big part of Poznan’s Jews moved to Germany. In Poznan stayed small number of them, making 1.5% of the population. In the beginning of 1939 most of them were transported to the area of Nazi occupied Poland.

What we do in the project

We’ve divided the project on three stages:
I. The first one is to gather information about history of Jewish population in Poznan.
We’ve divided into three teams:
1. Engages in history of Jewish community in Poznan to 1918.
2. Engages in history of Jewish community in Poznan in 1918-1939.
3. Engages in history of Jewish community in Poznan in times of World War II.
This stage is almost finished. Every group prepares a multimedia presentation and after equalization of the slides we want to present the material to ourselves and later to all of Junior High students. We’ll be presenting historical photos as well as the contemporary, showing today’s condition of streets and houses connected with history of Jews in Poznan.

So far we visited an exhibition in Museum of Poznan City and listened to the lecture of Anna Ziolkowska about annihilation of Jewish population in Wielkopolska District. She is also a PhD and a custodian of Museum of Martyrdom located on the terrain of forced labour camp in Zabikow.

Individual teams journeyed through Poznan, taking photos of particular places, especially the synagogue, conducted an interview with a custodian of Museum of Martyrdom of Wielkopolska People in Fort 7th on annihilation of Jewish population and visited libraries learning the needed information.

When the opportunity occurred, photos of Lodz also have been taken, because the Jews of Lodz’s ghetto were prisoners of forced labour camp in Zabikow.

We would like to complement the presentation with singing (in Hebrew and in Polish) a fragment of psalm „Look how good it is to be with brothers” and reading of the memories of Poznan’s Jews gathered in the book by Z. Pakula “Grey Stones”.


What we are going to do next

The 2nd stage is to be dedicated to the synagogue on Wroclawska St. but a bit different in meaning than actions of the three-graders in last year. We would concentrate on celebrations and religious ceremonies which were held there.

The 3rd stage is to be dedicated to meeting people. We plan to meet the President of Poznan’s Jewish Community (branch of Union of Jewish Communities), Alicja Kobus or her deputy, aldermen of Poznan city and a Hebraist priest (we do know his name yet, because we’re using as mediator the rector of our parish.

Material from 2nd and 3rd stage is also to be presented to other Junior High students.

Our history teacher, Laura Piotrkowska, helps us with the project. We did not search for supporters but undoubtedly Anna Ziolkowska from the Martyrdom Museum in Zabikow has become one. We would like to thank her for all her support.

What are we proud of

We’re proud of self-reliant research and commitment. Of recalling what was the mythical Atlantis and what meaning this metaphor really has. Of first elaborated materials.


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