On March 20th, 2018 the official closing ceremony of the project for high school students entitled “We know your names” was organized. Within this project the students were supposed to find information on concrete Jewish families who used to live in Brzesko and neighboring villages so that to save those stories from complete oblivion. The city Mayor Grzegorz Wawryka and the City Culture Center were the official organizers of this project.
The main city officials as well as about 50 students and their teachers were present at the ceremony. We also received the letter of Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, addressed to the participants of this project, in which she expressed her gratitude and appreciation of the efforts of Brzesko citizens to commemorate the life of their former Jewish neighbours.
Prof. Jonathan Webber, prominent scientist who’s dedicated decades of his life to the research and commemoration of the history of Polish Jews, came to our ceremony so that to speak to Brzesko students. In his talk prof. Webber emphasized: “If you, as the local students, are involved in the work of recovering the lost history of your town’s former Jewish neighbours, what you are doing is to participate in the building up of a new sense of healing and reconciliation, along with hope and optimism for the future. Thinking about healing and reconciliation is not at all easy or straightforward; on the contrary, it is obviously slow and complex, but it’s the task all of us have to do, both Jews and Poles, in order to move forward.”
The students who submitted their works for this year’s edition of the project proved to be very creative and dedicated. For example, Dawid Czaja has managed to find 12 testimonies of Holocaust survivors from Brzesko and vicinity registered by USC Shoah Foundation. Magdalena Borowiec has spent many days researching the history of Weinstock family who used to live in Bucze, small village several kilometers away from Brzesko, and managed to find many previously unknown details. Other students described the destiny of sisters Bluma and Rachel Schrank saved by Genowefa Smajdo from Borzęcin or the history of the Flakowicz family who managed to survive the war in Brzesko…
All the works presented by the students will become part of the regional museum. I hope, that next year we will organize the third edition of this project and more students will get involved in the research of the little-known pages of the history of their region.
Anna Brzyska, March 2018