The MultiMemo project (2023-2024) proposes an intersectional approach to remembrance – one that underscores the relevance of remembering for social justice and facing contemporary challenges related to human rights violations, military conflicts and violence, social exclusion, and the migration crisis. Drawing from the concept of ‘multidirectional memory’, the project discusses and initiates a variety of forms of active remembrance in the public spheres across several European countries – a remembrance that does not exist in a social vacuum, and instead underscores the urgent need to stand up to contemporary practices of violence and exclusion.
MultiMemo’s point of departure is the troubling legacy of WWII in East Central Europe (ECE). The project focuses on sites and practices of ‘mutliple exclusion’ with respect to remembrance that are problematic or/and overlooked because the trauma of the Holocaust overlaps with other intricate social, historical or contemporary issues. Such sites in ECE also represent a form of legacy of both totalitarian regimes in modern history – National Socialism and Communism. The intersectional approach proposed by the project is relevant now more than ever, when we are experiencing – again, after almost eight decades of peace – a war in East Central Europe, in Ukraine, resulting in massive refugee and humanitarian crises.
The project is funded by the European Union (CERV-2022-REM) and involves nine European partners: FestivALT, UMF, Zapomniane Foundation, JCC Warsaw, the Formy Common Foundation, the Foundation for the Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries, CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg and the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg.
1. KICK-OFF – WARSAW
The first meeting of the MultiMemo project took place on February 19-20, 2023 in Warsaw. Together with the partners of the consortium we discussed the project goals and approach and presented them to a larger audience.
We started the event with walks around two Jewish cemeteries of Warsaw, Okopowa and Bródno, focused on the topic of approach to remembrance, the concept of green commemorations and various types of commemoration. Then, the event was focused on project planning, communication and coordination of work for the upcoming months between the partners. The purpose of this meeting was also to integrate project partners and set an efficient and clear cooperation model.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 1)
2. PARTICIPATORY MEMORY WORKSHOP – PAWŁÓWKA
In March, a ceremony was held in Tomaszów Lubelski and Pawłówka to commemorate the burial place of three Jewish children: Rywka, Balka and Jankiel, murdered during the Holocaust and buried near their home in Pawłówka. The highlight of the educational workshops was the ceremony of marking this place with a wooden matzeva. The workshops and the ceremony were attended by students of the 1st High School in Tomaszów Lubelski and students of the Primary School in Michalów, school directors, representatives of local authorities, museum employees, several residents, teachers and a local choir. A prayer for the dead was sung in Hebrew and Psalm 23 was read by a student.
These were the first series of workshops carried out by the Zapomniane Foundation as part of the MultiMemo project. We would like to thank the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and the donor Szlomo-Albam-Stiftung for co-financing the workshops in Pawłówka “Reference Points” – creating a wooden matzevot.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 28)
3. POLYPHONIES OF MEMORY. INCLUSIVE MEMORY OF WARSAW APRIL 16-23, 2023
As part of the Multimemo project, the partner organization Jewish Community Center conducted the event “Polyphonies of Memory. Inclusive Memory of Warsaw”, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from a different perspective than usual.
The aim of the event was to listen and conduct a multi-voiced narrative woven from the memories of the participants of these events and their descendants. These were discussions, walks, meetings and artistic projects that allowed for a multidimensional experience of the memory of the ghetto uprising and the Jewish inhabitants of the city, which we – Warsaw Jews inherit and carry forward in many ways – as different as we are. Here are the most important events of “Polyphonies of Memory. “Inclusive Memory of Warsaw”:
→ Meeting on the topic “Kwestia charakteru. Bojowniczki z getta warszawskiego” was led by Shana Penn together with some of the book’s authors: Sylwia Chutnik, Patrycja Dołowy, Zuzanna Hertzberg, Natalia Judzińska and Karolina Sulej.
→ A piano concert by Michał Michalski, an outstanding Polish pianist of the young generation, who will come to the JCC, which was a tribute to the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto.
→ Grassroots commemoration of the ghetto uprising on Szmul Zygielbojm Square and the surrounding streets, which ended at Umschlagplatz, from where hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp during the war.
→ “Personal memory” meeting with Józef Hen – Polish-Jewish publicist, film scriptwriter, playwright and author of many books, including biographical ones.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 13)
Piotr Kulisiewicz (JCC)
4. A WALK AROUND THE JEWISH CEMETERY IN BRÓDNO AND PRESENTATION OF ITS RENOVATION PROJECT – WARSAW
On April 23, 2023, another event was held as part of the MultiMemo project, organized by the partner organization Formy Wspólne. The meeting concerned the cemetery in Bródno – the oldest Jewish necropolis in Warsaw, and the conceptual project of its renovation, namely the exhibition of about 40,000 matzevot, which are currently decaying in the heaps in the central part of the cemetery. The first part of the meeting was a walk around the cemetery and getting acquainted with the extraordinary and tragic history of this place, as well as with its actual state. Thanks to this, the participants could better understand the assumptions of the project presented by the architects of the Common Forms Foundation in the second part of the event at the Museum of Warsaw’s Praga.
In addition to the residents, the event was attended by activists from the Forum for Dialogue foundation, researchers from the department of anthropology and cultural studies, engineers, architects, and representatives of the Jewish Community from Warsaw and Sweden.
It was the first event organized by the Formy Wspólne foundations as part of the MultiMemo: Multidirectional Memory: Remembering for Social Justice project, in which we had the honor to participate as partners.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 27)
5. PARTICIPATORY MEMORY WORKSHOP – ZAMOŚĆ 10-11.05.2023
In May, a ceremony was held in Zamość to commemorate the burial place of the Jewish family of Mendel, Chajka and Niura in Zrąb, murdered by a German gendarme in their home.
The event was preceded by educational workshops and workshops with students of the 2nd Secondary School in Zamość, during which we prepared a wooden marker in the shape of a matzeva with an inscription along with the names of the victims written by the workshop participants.
After the workshops, we went with the youth to the burial place of a Jewish family in Zrąb, where the ceremony of marking this place with a wooden matzeva took place.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 32)
6. STILL STANDING — MONUMENT IN MOTION 16.05.2023
As part of the MultiMemo project, on May 16, 2023, the Still Standing performative action took place in urban space in Warsaw. The event started in front of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes and ended on the terrace above the Muranów Cinema, located opposite the former great synagogue.
“Still Standing” is a performative activity in which the body is treated as a living sculpture created in relation to a place. The action enters into dialogue with the historical choreography of Israeli choreographer Noa Eshkol, prepared by her for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and presented in 1953 at Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta’ot (Ghetto Fighters) in Israel.
This year, 70 years later, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, FestivALT, the Masovian Cultural Institute and PERFORM prepared it in a new version as part of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It was conceived as a commemoration of the destruction of the Great Synagogue, which took place on May 16, 1943, and thus as a gesture of denying the intentions of the Nazi torturers that accompanied its destruction.
Using movement, choreography and narrative, Still Standing asks the question of care as a possible response to what remains of history – a care that takes us not only to the past, but also to the present and towards the future.
80 people were invited to the project – residents of Muranów, but also other people interested in recalling memory as part of the program commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 14)
M. Jaźwiecki (POLIN)
7. MEMORY POLES. STRATEGIES OF REBUILDING THE IDENTITY OF THE BRÓDNO JEWISH CEMETERY – 18.06.2023
On June 18, 2023, another event was organized by the partner organization Fundacja Documentacji Cmentarzy Żydowskich, as part of the MultiMemo project, in which we had the honor to participate as partners. This is the first event “Memory poles. Strategies of rebuilding the identity of the Bródno Jewish Cemetery” opened a series of workshops for the local community around the Jewish Cemetery in Bródno.
The aim of the workshop is to restore the memory of the Bródno cemetery and to involve residents, activists, social organizations and local authorities in this process.
During the event, there was a walk of two large cemeteries on opposite banks of the Vistula River, whose stories are diametrically opposed. The cemetery in Bródno, almost completely destroyed by the post-war regime, was forgotten and deprived of any signs of a cemetery. Today, pioneering research and commemorative activities are carried out there. The second cemetery at Okopowa Street is constantly used by the local Jewish community, and at the same time it is visited by crowds of tourists and pilgrims.
During the tour, the directors of both cemeteries familiarized us with the history of these places. Comparing both cemeteries, we talked about how to restore the cultural character of the necropolis in Bródno.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 31)
8. MEMORIZATION OF THE RINGELBLUM ARCHIVES – WORKSHOPS AND DISCUSSION ON COLLECTIVE MEMORY – 18.06.2023
On June 18, 2023, another event was held as part of the MultiMemo project, organized by the partner organization Formy Wspólne, as part of the MultiMemo project: Multidirectional Memory: Remembering Social Justice, in which we had the honor to participate as partners.
The purpose of the event was to gather everyone – individuals, representatives of the administration and social organizations who contributed to the creation of the monument, as well as local residents – to start the next stage of cooperation and discussion on the future of the Memorial and plans for educational and cultural activities to maintain the memory of the archive and its creators – the Oneg Shabbat group.
The event began with joint work – tidying up the area around the monument, and then finishing the planting of the hedge – the last and so far unrealized element of commemoration, which recreated the basement where the archive was found. The second part of the event took place at the Muranów Station, where the creators of the project told about the history of its creation, followed by a discussion.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 29)
9. FestivALT – 23.06 – 2.07.2023
FestivALT – a 10-day festival of Jewish art, activism and education, is another event carried out as part of the MultiMemo project. The program included 24 events: performances, discussions, urban walks, workshops, exhibitions, created by authors and artists from Central and Eastern Europe, America and Canada.
The festival was themed around the notion of intersectional memory with a particular focus on “doykait” – a Yiddish word that can be understood as “Hereness” or the “here and now”. It was an idea popularized during the interwar periods by the Bund (Jewish Socialist Party) and it was most commonly connected to the struggle for Jewish rights and cultural autonomy wherever Jews were living. For the Bund, this meant advocating for the strengthening of Central and Eastern European Jewry and firmly claiming their homeland in the Diaspora, rather than being separated out and relegated to Israel. For FestivALT we used the notion of “Doykait” as advocative lens for the contemporary intersectional Polish Jewish Identity.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 15)
10. EXHIBITION OPENING: LANDSCAPE ARCHIVE – 25/08/2023
As part of Knowledge Mobilization, our partner organization Zapomniane Foundation organized an exhibition on places with difficult heritage – in particular: uncommemorated burial places of Holocaust victims, which are objects of multiple exclusion – as places of the history of Jews and Roma, as burials of civilians, including women and children, etc. The exhibition was presented at the Austrian Cultural Forum as part of the Singer’s Warsaw Festival from August 25, 2023 to September 8, 2023. The exhibition was based on artistic research of these burial places conducted by the Zapomniane Foundation. As they studied the landscape with increasing care, they discovered that places that seemed empty were actually full of traces of events that had happened years ago. The exhibition explores these traces, as well as the new artistic tools and technical possibilities and associated new research methods that have opened up the field to study topography without interfering with it in the way traditional archeology does, providing digital data on the knowledge archived in the landscape. The exhibition was an attempt to propose a new approach to commemoration, more interdisciplinary and intersectional, combining art, activism and academia.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 2)
11. PARTICIPATORY MEMORY WORKSHOP – KAŁUSZYN 17.10.2023
On October 17 in Kałuszyn, the Zapomniane Foundation conducted participatory commemoration workshops, the topic of which was commemorating the Jewish history of the city, the Jewish cemetery and the mass grave of Holocaust victims.
The workshops were an attempt to transform the innovative commemorative practice we created – green commemorations – into a participatory event. The event began with a screening of the film “Ukos Światła”, and was followed by a meeting with the descendants of Kałuszyn Jews, Wiktoria Kurtz and her father Artur Kurtz. This was Wiktoria’s third visit to the school in her efforts to build long-term relationships with the local community, but for her father, the son of Kałuszyn Jews, it was the first visit to the city and Poland. They shared their family history, talked about who they were and what their intentions were (restoring the memory of the Jewish past in Kałuszyn) and talked to children who could ask questions and build relationships with them
The aim of the workshops was to involve local youth – 7th grade students of the Primary School in Kałuszyn – in the process of long-term involvement in building and cultivating local Jewish memory. The third part of the workshop was a conversation with landscape architect Natalia Budnik, who, together with Victoria Kurtz, presented to the youth the idea of marking the boundaries of the Jewish cemetery and mass grave with plants (in line with the idea of “green commemoration”). Together they presented the idea and brought to school plants selected for planting in the cemetery. The children learned about the plants, could touch them and ask questions. After the workshops, the plants were planted in pots on the school premises so that the children could care for them throughout the winter and plant them in the cemetery in the spring.
The idea of the workshops was to expand the idea of “green commemorations” and develop a methodology in which it can be a longer process involving the local community. Thanks to successful cooperation with the school, children will take care of the plants until spring, when they will plant them in a designated place in the cemetery.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 33)
12. PARTICIPATORY MEMORY WORKSHOP – ŁĘCZNA 19.10.2023
On October 19, 2023 in Łęczna, the Zapomniane Foundation conducted workshops for young people around the burial place of approximately 1,000 Jews from Łęczna. The educational workshops were aimed at involving and engaging school youth in caring for the burial site and encouraging them to become part of the process of preparing the commemoration.
The participatory workshops consisted of two parts. The first part was prepared by landscape architect Natalia Budnik, who created a design for developing the area around the planned monument by using greenery. Referring to the concept of green commemorations, she introduced the youth to her way of thinking and her concept, and then the participants planted plants together with her around the burial site and the future monument. The second part of the workshops was cooperation with the monument conservator Magda Olszowska, who was the co-author of the project and the designer of the monument in Łęczna. The workshops were based on her original idea of creating “memory stones” using “marble flour” and silicone molds specially created for the classes. After introducing the youth to the meaning of pebbles and the custom of placing them at graves in Judaism, the youth made white pebbles with their own hands under her supervision. Stones were prepared for the commemoration ceremony so that the youth could place them at the burial site in accordance with Jewish tradition.
The workshops took place a few weeks before the commemoration ceremony (November 7, 2023), in which young people and residents of Łęczna, clergy of three denominations, local authorities, representatives of various organizations, descendants of Jews from Łęczna and the Jewish community from Lublin participated. The youth could see the results of their work and place the stones they made near the monument.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 30)
13. FESTIVAL ZBLIŻENIA GDAŃSK 06/09/2023 – 12/11/2023
Zbliżenia Kultur Foundation is another organization that took part in the MultiMemo project, implementing a rich program of the 11th edition of the Zbliżenia Jewish Culture Festival.
The festival program, in addition to proposals introducing and promoting Jewish culture, tradition and art, included events focusing on Polish-Jewish-German relations, the position of women in the modern world and the relations and interpenetration of Jewish, Polish and German cultures.
As part of the project, the Zoom Culture Foundation conducted, among others: the following events:
- Radio play “The Devil Has Dwelled in Europe”.
- A concert of original poetry “Kinot” by Jarosław Lipszyc dedicated to contemporary Jewish poetry.
- Concert by Mari K. “Di szajchesen – connections”.
- Lecture “Around the Great Synagogue” – meeting with the author of the book under the same title, Jacek Bielak.
- Anti-discrimination workshops dedicated to children from Gdańsk Children’s Homes.
- Workshops for students of the Secondary School of Fine Arts in Gdańsk and children from Gdańsk Children’s Homes in the New Synagogue in Gdańsk.
7.Celebrations on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht – commemoration of the pogrom of the Jewish community committed by German Nazis in November 1938.
→ Read the Event Description (WP 17)
The MultiMemo project - Multidirectional Memory: Remembering for Social Justice, is realized in collaboration with CEJI - A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries, Foundation Formy Wspólne, Urban Memory Foundation, Zapomniane Foundation, Hochschule fur Judische Studien, JCC Warszaw and Wurzburg University