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"To Bring Memory Back" edition 2006-2007

Zespół Szkół nr 3, Gimnazjum nr 4 linia

Who are we

School Complex No.3, Middle School In Czerwonka-Leszczyny (Silesia). Since September 2006 the students of our school take part in a Web Quest project “On the Jewish trail in Upper Silesia” (http://republika.pl/zydzigornyslaskwq/).

A Web Quest is a new form of a project, which took a shape of the website. As one, a Web Quest is far more attractive for young students.

The extensiveness of the project made its creators decide to divide the work between different workgroups, permitting the ambitious and curious students to develop their passions: history, research, journalism, music and song, art, and even cuisine. The project will be realized both as class and after class activity during the lessons of history, Polish language and art, and during circles of interest such as Dance, Theater, History and Choir.

The project is coordinated by Malgorzata Mazur-Zajac.

Why we do this project

For the last 3 years the Middle School In Czerwionka-Leszczyny is realizing a religion cycle entitled: “Silesia as a meeting place of 3 religions: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism”, within the framework of which many conferences and photo expositions were organized. The main goal of the program was to create space for the dialogue between the religions, discussion and exchange of opinions.

During our yearly meetings emerged an image of Silesia as a place of interaction between many national and cultural factors. The conference dedicated to the Silesian Jews added another color to this ethnic and religious mosaic. We are especially pleased with the fact that this dialogue in being held not in the halls of universities, but in the small town of Czerwionka-Leszczyny, where the Catholics and Protestants still live in a peaceful coexistence, as they did with the Jews before the World War II. Such conferences have a special meaning nowadays, when the prejudices spread faster than reason and ages old negative stereotypes resurface everywhere. Our activity aims to popularize the knowledge, which is the best weapon against prejudices. Therefore it is extremely important that the students of other schools participate in our meetings, so the word “tolerance” would not be missing in young people’s growing value system, and the word “different” would not be associated with anything bad or negative, but only with diversity, which for ages was Silesian trademark.

The last conference “Jews on Silesia” (22nd of September 2005) made clear that we have only limited knowledge of the followers of the third, dominating Silesian religion, how little we know about their culture and tradition. Therefore we decided to create a long term project dedicated entirely to the history, tradition and culture of the Upper Silesian Jews. We have established some primary goals;

  1. Make our students aware of the fact that the Upper Silesia was a place of a peaceful coexistence of three religions, with a special place for Judaism;
  2. Show the students the influence of the Jewish community on the economic, social and cultural of Silesia;
  3. Discover the tradition, culture and religion of the Silesian Jews;
  4. To create an open space for interreligious dialogue, actions against intolerance, xenophobia and stereotypes.

Jewish community in our town

„Gone are now those 5 Jews of Czerwionka, the only Jews in the settlement, who opened their shops and market stalls on this street for the miners. There is a special warm reminiscence of Tichauer, whose family originated from Tychy. He came to the town a long time before the World War I, he even built himself a one-storied house near the railway crossing, he spoke Polish and German, but he preferred the local dialect, he was satisfied with Prussia, because one his cousins made an international career as owner of the mail order company selling electrical supplies in Berlin. Tichauer was selling underwear, clothes and coats on hire purchase, and, as the so called general store, he had also caps and hats, becoming even a rival for the famous hatmaker Pawel Karwot from Rybnik, from whom we were buying the gymnasium hats.”

Wilhelm Szewczyk, Memories (Wspomnienia, Katowice 2001)

The appearance of the Jewish community in our town dates back to 19th century and is one of the causes of its intense development. The diligence and honesty of the Jewish settlers were written deep down in the memory of the most famous publicist of the epoque born in Czuchow (Czerwionki district), Wilhelm Szewczyk, who immortalised them on the pages of his book “Kleszcze (Ticks)”. The Jews of Czerwionka and Debiensk belonged to the Jewish community in Zory, where they were buried.

Unfortunately the history of our town has another, tragic chapter. Czerwionki was one of the stops on the trail of the ill-fated Death March. In January 1945 the prisoners of the liquidated extermination camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau were forced to march away from the camp. Those who died on the way were buried on the local cemetery.

The community of Czerwionki does its best to commemorate those who were murdered during the march.

What we do in the project

Since the project’s matter extends to the entire territory of Upper Silesia, we will study the Jewish communities of such towns and cities as Katowice, Zory, Mikolow, Gliwice, Wielowies, Toszek, Brzeg, Opole, Rybnik, Cieszyn, and Bielsko-Biała.

The students are divided into four thematic groups working on four different aspects of the study:

- “Who they are and where did they come from?” - students explore the history of the Israeli nation during the diaspora period until the arrival of first Jews on the Silesian territory, looking for the causes of hate and xenophoby (e.g. ritual murder cases);

- “The character of religious relations between Christians and Jews” – students prepare an Oxford debate on this matter;

- “Tradition and culture of the Chosen Nation” – students learn to sing 3 Yiddish songs, dance simple Jewish dances, explore the secrets of Jewish cuisine and learn about Jewish holidays and burial rites;

- “Jews from Neighbourhood” – students prepare an art exhibition “Jews in Czerwionka in memories of W. Szewczyk”, write a reportage from the bicycle trip following the itinerary of the Death March, and prepare a multimedia presentation about a selected Silesian scientist, inventor, artist or writer of Jewish descendance, living in Silesia in 19th and 20th century.




What we are going to do next

Currently we are realizing few goals at once. We would like every artworks, reportages, and presentations prepared by the students to be put on our website. We would like to invite schools from Czech Republic and Germany to cooperate in the future.

Who is helping us

Among our partners are the local Culture Center, Movement for the Autonomy of Silesia, the Evangelic Parrish in Czerwionka, Didactic Center of the Silesian University in Katowice, and the Jewish Community in Katowice.


What are we proud of

We are proud of the fact that our project is not a temporary activity, but a process planned for many years. As a school we pioneered the interreligious activity in local environment, and we created for our students the conditions for shaping their minds in the atmosphere of tolerance and acceptation. We are glad that our students may present their works on exhibitions, and that our project has encountered nothing but acceptance in our region and in the country.

Here are examples (in Polish only) of the comments:



http://www.irg.pl/aktualnosci.php?news=2589 http://www.luteranie.pl/ewangelik/2005/2005_4_04.html







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