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"To Bring Memory Back" edition 2006-2007

WŁODAWA - Publiczne Gimnazjum nr 1 im. Ks. S. Konarskiego linia

Who are we

Rev. S. Konarski Public Middle School


Why we do this project

Inspired by Mrs Beata Szmidt and Mrs Elżbieta Wołczuk, teachers from Middle School in Włodawa, the students of the school have created a School Club "On the paths of memory". The activities of the Club include discovering of multicultural heritage of our town, proofs of peaceful coexistence of different cultures and religions.

We do our work after classes, giving students a different view on our local heritage, letting them develop and shape their activity and individuality. It helps them understand the world around them. It also stimulates the curiosity and interest in their own family’s history, encourages researching and reading the traces of the past. We are aware of the multicultural past of our town, in which the Jewish culture played the main role. Although today there are no Jews left in Włodawa, we try to get to know this nation’s culture, to show its beauty and variety, to break stereotypes and prejudices. The Club’s patrons are only discreet guides for the students. We try to promote their activities among other students of our school and in the local community. In season 2003/2004 our students accomplished the project "Close and unusual places", creating cards of Włodawa’s monuments and gathering information (mainly interviews with the inhabitants of Włodawa) for an informative brochure "Włodawa nowadays". The material was published in a guidebook to Włodawa. We also worked on the project "Outskirts don’t mean margin – a virtual journey around Europe" organized by "Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre" Center (with which we’ve co-operated for last few years). As a result, an Internet site about our region was created. We also took part in another "Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre" Center’s project called "Letters to the Ghetto". Each year, young people send letters addressed to the Jewish district, to the places that no longer exist. We show the Club’s activity to primary schools’ students during the "Open Days" of our school. By teaching Jewish dances, singing and playing, we promote this beautiful culture. In this way we teach tolerance. In 2005 we participated in the celebration of the "Holocaust Remembrance Day". We prepared a performance called "To pass the gates of the world" concerning the Jewish wedding ceremonial. In the second part we showed a vision of war and the Holocaust, the tragedy of Jewish people fated to death. The next point of the program was a multimedia presentation "Picture of a Jews in Polish literature" and an exhibition of pictures made by our students "There are no more Jewish towns in Poland…". The result of our work was shown to the local community. It was a real history lesson. At the beginning of October 2005 we prepared a route of a trip on our town for the students of middle school in Sieniawa. The route emphasized mainly on the places showing the multicultural history of the town (an orthodox church, a synagogue complex). It turned out that we were perfect guides and we proved how much we knew in that matter. In November and December our activities focused on taking part in preparations of the annual Festival of the Three Cultures. We made decorations for the shop windows on the "route of the three cultures", and during the Festival, dressed in Jewish-style costumes, we joined to a street happening. In January, in order to prepare an exhibition of Jewish paper cuttings, two students compiled a script of art lesson for the first class. Lessons on the topic of paper cutting techniques were lead in every first class in the school. The best works were showed in the exhibition. Regarding the big interest of young people and their will to "testify the truth", the Discoverers’ Club intents to carry on its activity. Together we search for new, interesting ways of expression, in order to represent the attitude of outrightness, tolerancy and respect for other people’s dignity. Ipso facto, we have a motive for reflection on contemporary world and on human state. Above all, we want to preserve the memory of the past times, the times of contempt; "Let the world knew what happened here" (Haim Ginnot).

Jewish community in our town

Włodawa lays upon Bug river. Nowadays, it has about 15 thousand dwellers. During centuries it was a place where Polish and Jewish culture was meeting. Jews, who employed themselves in trade, started to come and inhabit the town just after its location. As years passed by, Jewish community grew in number, finding here good working and living conditions. Their influence on the town’s image was also growing bigger. As a result, it was Jews who in the period between World War I and World War II shaped the town’s economical and social life. In the time of the Second Polish Republic about 68% of Włodawa’s dwellers were Jews.In the years of World War II, the Jewish community, cruelly oppressed by the invader, was almost completely exterminated, mainly in the death camp of Sobibór. Today, the only thing that’s left are rare tokens of remembrance, among which the most splendid is a complex of kahal buildings, containing a small and a big synagogue, and beit ha-midrash.

What we do in the project

We are looking forward to discover old Włodawa through the photography. Old pictures of the places in our town will be found and analysed, narrated and finally confronted with their up-to-date versions.
The effects will be presented in two forms: a multimedia presentation, and an exhibition.





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