Last Days of the “Żegota. Hidden Help” Exhibition
Previous research on the Council to Aid Jews “Żegota” concentrated, above all else, on the activity of its Warsaw headquarters. In an endeavour to fill in the gaps in knowledge about its branches in Kraków and Lwów, the City of Kraków History Museum, to mark the 75th anniversary of “Żegoty's” establishment, created a temporary exhibition dedicated to the Kraków branch. This is the second such exhibition of this type. The first was opened in the Old Synagogue in May 1968, but no documentation from it has been preserved to this day. This allowed for a historical narrative to be recreated, which was presented in the context of the March 1968 antisemitic campaign.
Opened on 16th November 2017, The Żegota. Hidden Help Exhibition is an extension of the threads contained in the permanent exhibition Kraków – During Occupation 1939-1945 in the Oskar Schindler Emalia Factory Museum. It is comprised of four parts – introducing a multimedia presentation showing the conext on Kraków “Żegota's” establishment. It includes basic information about the Holocaust of the Jews in the General Government – the first being where the Kraków branch was active, the second presenting the fate of the Jews in hiding in Kraków and the third being a summary, focussing on the timeless message of the Council and its post-War commemoration.
The exhibition's curator writes:
The aim of the exhibition is to acquaint viewers with the various attitudes of Polish society towards the Holocaust of the Jews and, above allm with the dilemmas faced by those who sought refuge and by those, at the risk of their own lives, who provided it. It also attempts to answer questions, relevant to today's point of view. Under what conditions was help provided? Who provided it? What were the surrounding attitudes towards the rescuers and the rescued? What was life like in hiding? It places great emphasis on specific cases and the stories of individuals, which help to present the complex realities of the period of German occupation. The exhibition is based mainly on the stories of survivors and witnesses, as well as upon preserved documents.
The exhibition has been enriched with unique memorabilia (some of which we present above), among them being receipts for cash signed by “sub-distributors” and recipients (from the collection of Jacek Dobrowolski) and a double-bottomed chest used by Wanda and Władysłaa Wójcik to transport false documents (from the Holocaust Museum in Washington). Important supplements to the narrative are copies of Kraków City Council documents, including cash reports, reports for the Government Delegation for the Nation, lists of people benefiting from financial support and letters of thanks from people who received help.
An important part of the exhibition is the accompanying published catalogue which includes articles relating to the Kraków branch of “Żegota” and the lives of individual Jews in hiding Krakow and in the Małopolskie Province (Bartosz Heksel), as well as texts from the Kraków underground, for example in “Wolności” and “Dziennika Polskiego”, regarding the Holocaust of the Jews and about “Żegota” in post-War reports (Katarzyna Kocik). These are complemented by the memoirs of Janina Altman – on how she was saved from the Holocaust by “Żegota”.
To mark the final days of the exhibition, the following events are planned :
- 8th July 2018, 10:00am and 4:00pm – curatorial guided tour of the temporary exhibition
- 8th July 2018, 12 noon – anti-discrimination workshop for children and young people
Location: Oscar Schindler Emalia Factory Museum
Exhibition Curator: Bartosz Heksel
Assistant Curator: Katarzyna Kocik
Exhibition duration: 16/11/2017 to 08/07/2018