On March 23rd we finished the project we’ve organized in Brzesko with an official closing ceremony, presenting the rewards, etc. The title of the project was “We know your names: commemoration of the pre-war Jewish community of Brzesko”, and it was organized together with the City Culture Center and the City Mayor Grzegorz Wawryka.
There were many people attending – not only those students who participated in the project, but also their fellow students, teachers, Dov landau who came to Poland from israel especially for that event, several elder Brzesko citizens who still remember their Jewish neighbours – priest Franciszek Kostrzewa, prof. Dyłąg, Franciszek Kubała.
At the beginning of the ceremony all the participants were greeted by the city Mayor Grzegorz Wawryka. Izraeli Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, wrote a very beautiful letter addressing Brzesko students and teachers participating in this project. Of course, in such a small town as Brzesko, it makes a huge difference. Holocaust survivor from Brzesko, Dov Landau, spoke about his experiences. Prof. Jonathan Webber gave a talk emphasizing the importance of the project which helps not only to commemorate the Jewish community which used to comprise over half of Brzesko citizens, but also to think over the basic values important in everyone’s life.
The works students presented were quite impressive. Two presentations were dedicated to life of Brzesko Jews in the occupied city. Projects of Kinga Zydroń (“Outstanding Brzesko citizens of Jewish origin”) and Weronika Planeta (“Jews of Uszew”) described the lives of concrete people; several students interviewed some old Brzesko citizens who still remember their Jewish neighbors and presented these interviews as video materials. David Czaja contacted the archives in Auschwitz and found information on Brzesko Jews who had been murdered there Due to his work we learnt the names of Brzesko Jews murdered in that concentration camp. Another student, Magdalena Borowiec, has discovered a previously unknown story of two Mingelgrin brothers from Brzesko who had been saved by a Polish family in Buczków, small village not that far from Brzesko. Magda also managed to contact Ted Mingelgrin, son of one of those brothers, who’s lived in Sweden since 1968.
My special gratitude goes to the teachers who’ve been supporting and guiding students – Bernadeta Styczeń, Agata Marek, Jolanta Krokosz and Dorota Kwaśniak.
I hope, it will inspire more students to take part in this project next year – we want it to be an annual event. It is quite amazing – to see how the memory of Brzesko Jews is coming back.
Anna Brzyska, March 2017