It all started on November 1, 2014, when my husband and myself came to Brzesko to pay respects to family graves. It was on that same day that we also visited the Jewish cemetery at Czarnowiejska street. This cemetery made a rather sad impression – most of its area was covered with bushes and young trees so that tombstones could be hardly seen behind them. We decided to do something about it and in spring 2015 we came from Krakow together with our own children and a group of close friends so that to start cleaning the cemetery. However, after several such actions we understood that we would like to do more. Prior to World War II, Jews constituted over half of Brzesko residents; almost all of them were murdered. We decided to try to commemorate this part of Brzesko history which seemed to be largely forgotten.
Soon, we established cooperation with the city administration, Brzesko culture center and couple of schools, which provided new opportunities. Brzesko residents and students from two nearby schools started joining us in cleaning the Jewish cemetery. In September 2015, the first March of Remembrance was held on the anniversary of the liquidation of Brzesko ghetto, and since then these Marches of Remembrance have become an annual tradition with more and more people joining them, including city authorities, catholic priests, rabbis and descendants of Brzesko Jews coming especially for this event from different countries. In 2018, Israeli Ambassador to Poland Mrs Anna Azari also came to the March of Remembrance. In 2017, we’ve started another annual project under the patronage of Brzesko mayor. The title of this project directed to high school students of Brzesko county,”We know your names”, refers to Jewish families who used to live in the region, whose history we try to recreate. We have also established cooperation with many people and institutions, both in Poland and abroad, and this cooperation resulted in many new projects that you can read about on this website.
As more and more people were getting involved in various activities related to commemoration of Brzesko Jews, we decided to formalize our work, and in this way the Association “Memory and Dialogue. Common history.” was officially established in March 2019. All the current members of the association have been supporting our various activities for the last several years.
Our work has been recently recognized on an international level – on June 23, 2019, I received „Preserving memory” dyploma at the annual ceremony organized in Galicia Jewish museum in Kraków.
We have managed to do a lot since 2015, but we’ve got even bigger plans for the future. And we cordially invite everyone who would like to cooperate with the Association to contact us.
It is an extraordinary experience – to see the city regain part of its history; to witness young people learn to understand and respect other cultures and build relationships with their peers above divisions, and to help descendants of Brzesko Jews regain their roots.
Dr Anna Brzyska, chairperson of the association “Memory and dialogue. Common history.”
„Preserving memory” awards ceremony took place on June 23, 2019 in the Galicia Jewish museum in Kraków. Chairperson of the association „Memory and dialogue. Common history” was among 11 people who received this reward.