In the beginning of September FestivALT representatives talked about the complexities of memory and Jewish heritage in Krakow at the first Urban Jewish Heritage conference organized by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland – FODŻ and the Ironbridge International institute.
The potential of heritage projects for community capacity building – complexities, challenges and opportunities by Lena Rubenfeld and Debra Karen Brunner
This presentation will explore two case studies showing the divergent impacts of the heritage industry on local Jewish communities. On one hand, it will consider positive examples from Belarus, the Polosk Jewish Cultural Educational Foundation and the Great Synagogue in Slonim. On the other hand, it will consider the situation in Kraków, specifically the controversy over the conversion of the former Chevra Tehilim Beit Midrash to an upscale bar and restaurant. Through these case studies, the presentation will articulate how the use and misuse of heritage sites impact the consciousness of local Jewish communities, sometimes hardening and sometimes breaking stereotypes and misconceptions with which all members of the community must contend.
A Study in Ambivalent Heritage: The Former Płaszów Camp in Kraków by James Francisco
Though Płaszów is internationally known as the setting for Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, it remains a deeply ambivalent space in the contemporary city of Kraków. Unlike other former Nazi camps in Poland, Płaszów today is not under the oversight of a museum or cultural institution. It is publicly signed as a site of genocide, but mostly used for recreation, especially in the warm months, where it is a popular place to sunbathe, picnic and drink. As a site of memory (a lieu-de-mémoire, in Pierre Nora’s influential term), it is just as much a site of disregard, a nonsite of memory, where the traumatic past is not entirely forgotten, rather strangely adrift, neither embraced nor disavowed. This paper will address the specific history of Płaszów as a site of ambivalent Jewish heritage, exploring the contributing factors to its current status, and providing a theoretical structure for understanding that status within the wider geography of the Holocaust.