Marian Turski elected Chairman of the POLIN Museum Council

Marian Turski ubrany w niebieską koszulę i marynarkę. Podpiera twarz dłonią i patrzy przed siebie.
fot. M. Jaźwiecki / Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

During its first meeting, the newly appointed POLIN Museum Council elected Marian Turski to be the Council’s Chairman. Deputy chairwoman and chairman were also elected: Ms Aldona Machnowska-Góra, Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, and Mr Artur Hofman, head of the Social-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland.

Mr Turski will continue to act as the POLIN Council’s Chairman for the incoming term (2022-2026). He has held the Chairman’s post since the establishment of POLIN Museum.

The POLIN Council consists of representatives of the three Museum co-founders, namely: the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Warsaw:

  1. Artur Hofman
  2. Ronald S. Lauder
  3. Aldona Machnowska-Góra
  4. Ewa Malinowska-Grupińska
  5. prof. dr hab. Andrzej Paczkowski
  6. Shana Penn
  7. Zygmunt Rolat
  8. Prof. Adam Daniel Rotfeld
  9. Ryszard Schnepf
  10. Dr Jarosław Sellin
  11. Albert Stankowski
  12. Dr Mateusz Szpytma
  13. Marian Turski
  14. Bronisław Wildstein
  15. Piotr Wiślicki

The Museum Council is a collective body which brings together various parties and institutions involved in the Museum’s establishment process. In addition to authorities from various fields, the Council includes prominent scholars and experts in Jewish and general history. Its role is to evaluate the Museum’s to-date achievements and determine directions for future development. The Council is also mandated to approve the final appearance and content of the Core Exhibition.

Marian Turski was born 1926 in Druskienniki as Mosze Turbowicz. At the age of 14 he was imprisoned in the Łódź ghetto where he got engaged in the operations of the ‘Lewica Związkowa’ Leftist organization. He was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on one of the last transports in 1944. That is where the Germans murdered his father and brother.

In 1945, Mr Turski survived two death marches: in January, from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, and in April, from Buchenwald to Theresienstadt, where on 8 May he was liberated—by then almost in agony—by the Red Army.

Following the end of the Second World War, Mr Turski settled in Lower Silesia and in 1949 he moved to Warsaw. He is a historian and a journalist. He’s been editing the history section of Polityka weekly since 1958. He wrote and edited over a dozen books, among them:

  • "Lumumba i jego kraj" [Lumumba and His Homeland, Warsaw 1962],
  • "Operacja "Terminal" [Operation ‘Terminal’, Warsaw 1965] 
  • "Byli wówczas dziećmi" [They Were Children Back Then, Warsaw 1975]
  • "Ruch Pokoju. Ludzie, fakty" [Peace Movement. People, Facts, Warsaw 1975],
  • "Losy żydowskie. Świadectwo żywych" [Jewish Life Stories. The Testimony of the Living, volume I – Warsaw 1996, volume II – Warsaw 1999, volume III – Warsaw 2006]
  • "Polish Witnesses to the Shoah" [London 2010],
  • "Sztuka w miejscach śmierci. Europejskie pomniki ofiar hitleryzmu" [Art at the Sites of Death. European Monuments to the Victims of Hitlerism; with Halina Taborska, Kraków–Budapest–Siracuse 2019],
  • "Co ofiary wiedziały o swoim losie" [What Did the Victims Know about Their Fate, Kraków 2020],
  • "XI Nie bądź obojętny" [XI. Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent, Wołowiec 2021].

Marian Turski was awarded the title of an Honorary Citizen of the City of Warsaw for, among other things, his long-standing efforts leading to the creation of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Muranów. He has also served as Chairman of the Museum Council since its inception. He is member of the governing bodies of: Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, Association of the Jewish War Veterans and Victims of World War II, Council of the Wannsee Conference House— Memorial and Historical Education in Berlin. He served as Deputy President of the International Auschwitz Committee for many years and on 11 June was elected the Committee’s President.

Last March, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Senate of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University for “nobly fulfilling the mission of a guardian of the memory of the shared Polish-Jewish history, restoring faith in the power of free speech and the profound moral dimension of ‘Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent’ commandment, which has become a universal human obligation towards fellow human beings and the world.”

Mr Turski is a recipient of high honours from Poland, France, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Austria.