"Why nobody asks me if there was love in the ghetto?"
On 19 April, we commemorated the 79th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. For the tenth year in a row, along with our volunteers all across Poland, we recalled the memory of the Uprising by organising the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising social-educational campaign.
Was there love in the ghetto?
In the book titled "And There Was Love in the Ghetto", Marek Edelman, one of the Uprising’s commanders, asked:
"Why nobody ever asks me if there was love in the ghetto? Why isn’t anybody interested in that?"
During this year’s edition of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising campaign we pondered not only over the question posed by Edelman—we also reflected on what love was like and what it stood for in the Warsaw ghetto. We strove to show that there were many kinds of love: from parental love, through love towards an idea or love between friends, to romantic love.
This year’s edition of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising campaign was held at a time when people are yet again being killed in Eastern Europe, including women and children. We wanted the participation in the campaign—organised with love as its leading motif—to be a way of demonstrating our protest against the war and against any form of violence. Marian Turski said that Auschwitz had not fallen from the sky—with his words in mind, we stand united with those who are fighting for their homeland, for the freedom and dignity of their loved ones.
Volunteers and Ambassadors
1100 volunteers distributed 368,000 paper daffodils—a symbol of remembrance of the Warsaw Ghetto heroes—to passers-by in the streets of Warsaw. Thanks to special "daffodil pillars" we shared 5,000 paper flowers. 930,000 stickers were available as a supplement to the selected press. Thanks to cooperation with the Polish Institute in Israel, we managed to distribute over 30,000 daffodils in Israeli schools.
Aside from the daffodils, our volunteers distributed leaflets with the information on what had happened 79 years ago—this year, the leaflets were also translated into Ukrainian.
Due to the pandemic, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising campaign was held not only offline. In the Internet, people joined the campaign by posting hashtags #RememberingTogether and #WarsawGhettoUprisingCampaign, and by tagging @polinmuseum profile. The hashtags’ reach in the social media was 12.461,113, while the polin.pl website boasted 390,349 sessions.
This year, the Daffodils campaign was supported by new Ambassadors: Irena Santor, Krzysztof Gonciarz, Eliza Rycembel, Janusz Gajos, Andrzej Piaseczny and Aleksandra Popławska, as well as our remarkable volunteers: Dariusz, Joanna and Weronika.
From 18 to 30 April, a mural located next to the entrance to the Centrum station of the Warsaw metro commemorated individuals who were in one way or another associated with this year’s campaign’s motto: Alina Margolis-Edelman, Anna Braude-Heller, Stefania Wilczyńska, Pola Lifszyc, Marysia Ajzensztadt, Tzivia Lubetkin and Yitzhak Zuckerman, Irena Sendler and Adam Celnikier, Gela Seksztajn and Izrael Lichtensztajn, Stanisław Chmielewski and Władysław Bergman.
On 19 April, a play titled "Mum Always Returns" based on the book by Agata Tuszyńska premiered at POLIN Museum, followed by two more performances on 20 and 21 April. As part of the online programme, Franciszek Bojańczyk talked about the relationship between Marek Edelman and Alina Margolis-Edelman, recalled Pola Lifszyc running after her mum who was being led to Umschlagplatz, only to perish with her. Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the Chief Curator of POLIN Core Exhibition, talked to Eyal Menashes-Zuckerman, granddaughter of Tzivia Lubetkin and Yitzhak Zuckerman. The accompanying programme also included a sensory-friendly concert titled Josima’s Beads, a walk in the footsteps of women who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and a literary meeting in the Jewish ABC series devoted to the theme of love in memoirs and recollections.
Schools and institutions
Over 6,000 institutions from all across Poland joined this year’s Warsaw Ghetto Uprising campaign, i.e. over 500,000 participants. We produced an educational materials pack adapted for the use in class with children and youth in all age groups, as well as for the needs of people with disabilities. Our premiere audio plays and story adaptations titled "Strasznie strasznie" [Scary, Scary] and "Prawdziwi przyjaciele" [True Friends] adapted to the needs and capabilities of children with mild intellectual disability and within the autism spectrum in the 4th grade and higher attracted almost 19,000 Facebook and YouTube users.
Marek Edelman was the last commander of the Jewish Combat Organisation. He survived the liquidation of the ghetto and commemorated the events of 1943 throughout his postwar life. Each year on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, he used to come to the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes to pay homage to his comrades who had perished and to lay a bouquet of daffodils in front of the monument. With time, more and more people carrying the yellow flowers used to join Edelman.
From its very inception, the campaign is organised under the slogan "Remembering Together" which stresses the value of community, the importance of solidary and the need for dialogue. We firmly believe that remembering the past is one of the overriding values that unites us and gives us a shared identity, regardless of our worldview or political leanings.