The Jewish Historical Institute was established in order to gather, elaborate on and share testimonies of the Holocaust. Important books have been written for more than sixty years, a lot of exhibition devoted to the history of the Warsaw Ghetto have been organized. The mission of the Institute has not changed, only its scope might have widened. We want to show the times of the destruction and its effects. We will talk about the complex Jewish civilization and culture on Polish land and the destruction of them by the war.
Last year we commemorated the anniversary of Operation Reinhardt. We honoured the memory of more than two million Jews, Polish citizens murdered in 1942. Now, we begin the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Jewish uprisings in ghettos and camps, which we named ‘Resistance and the Holocaust’. We want to talk about the memory of the Holocaust. We are in search for the appropriate language. The most important in education. We issue books, testimonies of the war. We appreciate the importance of academic conferences and for that reason we are organizing one with IPN and Polish Center for Holocaust Research. It is entitled ‘Being a witness to the Holocaust’. We use the language of Polish art to talk about the Holocaust. Through the works of painters, sculptors, architects, poets we show how Polish culture deals with and presents what seams to be indescribable: massive death, humiliation, fear. This exhibition brings us to the most important question: how to avoid trivializing, ritualizing and commercializing the memory, how not to politicize it, how to speak about the war to keep it faithful to the victims’ experience. There is probably no good answer to these questions. We have to take them into consideration all the time and remember about them.
We also want to show how Jewish and Polish histories overlap, for example in art and ways of writing history. That is the reason why we turn our sight towards the witnesses to the Holocaust, towards those, who experienced and still experience it in various ways.
Still, a lot of war testimonies are waiting to be published. A lot of documents have not been researched yet. There is still a lot to be done in this field of education. JHI’s mission is still ongoing and will be so in the future.