Xegesis

The Memory of Absence

‘You’ll never understand the history of Poland properly without the story of the Jews.’ – Goldy, Tour Guide, Free Tour, Kazimierz

‘To understand the Twentieth Century in Europe you have to know Polish history … Poland is one of the oldest and historically most tolerant states in Europe.’ – Start the Week, Radio 4

Birkenau is a forbidding place to approach. As I enter, it is desolate and gripped in the depths of winter. I step into a barrack devoid of all items yet heavy with loss. I cross over a ditch and walk through a field, through thick snow, to the outlines of barracks. I photograph a magnificently desolate tree, completely stripped bare – the perfect symbol of loss. I approach a copse of silver birch and startle three deer. I photograph steps leading down into a snow covered pool, a pool of white, a pool of nothingness. I photograph the three brick stacks: iconic and symbolic. I am avoiding entering the camp, of coming at it too directly. I am more interested in the clues, or ways that the surrounding landscape can be framed to reveal the past. I circumnavigate the trauma, literally the other side of the fence, and photograph a pile of logs that are reminiscent of a pile of torsos, and a ditch with water black as blood. The small stream is in fact a drainage ditch dug by prisoners; the story goes that thirty prisoners escaped but three hundred were then sent to the gas chamber as punishment. I photograph the local derelict brick factory with it’s strangely grave like hole in the floor.

At Auschwitz Museum I have an appointment with Woljciech Ploza, Head of Archives. He gets out a fat accounting book with page after page of death certificates: each one is false! Wojchiech tells me that every prisoner at Auschwitz had an identity card and when they died every prisoner was issued a death certificate – however, the reason for death was fabricated, the cause of death falsified (for instance smallpox or myocardia) and the place of death never mentions concentration camp. I ask why the Nazis kept such fastidious records, what purpose did this bureaucracy serve? Wojchiech explains that Jews were assigned with this task, to fabricate lies, in order for the Nazi Germans to propagate the myth that, to an outside observer, the Auschwitz camp was a model of good prisoner care – a place of sanitary and hygienic medical practice. He adds: “it’s in the German nature; everything was recorded.” I query whether such records exist for Treblinka or Sobibor and he says they didn’t as these, along with Belzec, were the death camps and the Nazis were too busy putting the Jews to death to bother with paperwork! The mad mechanism of genocide was too far gone by this point. Wojciech tells me that Auschwitz had many sub-camps – camps where prisoners were put to work in mines: working camps. The Jews that were kept alive were kept very busy. Of the total number of Jewish people that were brought to Auschwitz only ten per cent were sent to the concentration camp, the rest were marched off to their death at Birkenau. The first Jewish males sent to Auschwitz arrived on the 14th June 1940; the first Jewish woman arrived on the 26th March 1942. By October 1944 202499 men and 120000 women had been incarcerated here: these were the final numbers tattooed into the prisoners arms (another example of the insanely cruel Nazi bureaucracy!).

As I travel around Southern Poland I visit the various Jewish Cemeteries, mostly neglected. Those not desecrated and ransacked by the Nazis are overgrown with weed and sapling. At Przemysl Old Jewish Cemetery all that is left is the Cemetery Arch and Hebrew Inscription. There are no Matzevah here just discarded rubbish. At Kazimierz Dolny the Cemetery is behind the Memorial Wall, formed from Matzevah fragments and with a symbolic crack in it representing the rending in the fabric time, or as if a lightning bolt of grief has rent it apart. This, of course, is Jewish tradition: the expression of grief is shown by the rending of garments by the mourner prior to the funeral service. The cemetery, set on the side of a steep hill that leads to a quarry, has a bare scattering of headstones. In Kock is a magnificent blue roofed memorial house, like something out of a folk tale (Hansel & Gretel perhaps); beguilingly beautiful. To one side is a tree with Matzevah placed around it; the headstones were used during the Second World War to sharpen knives (butcher’s knives maybe) and returned after the war by the local people – however they did not know where to place them so stacked them around the tree, where they have remained. Further into the cemetery is a wood-stack – branches stacked as if in preparation for a pyre. Simon Schama writes, in his book Belonging: ‘… true kavanah required the abandonment of bodily sensations, for the body should be treated as a mere ‘bundle of straw’ dragged behind the praying soul.’ 

Various Landscape – Possible & Impossible Escape Routes

The rivers and forests in south eastern Poland, bordering Ukraine and Belarus, were the location for Operation Reinhardt: Jews from across Europe were brought in to the three main death camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. The few prisoners that escaped the death camps had to traverse rivers and harsh terrain, to evade manhunts and rely upon an ambivalent local population that might give them food or might turn them in for rewards. The surrounding forests were often foreboding and impenetrable terrains. If they met local partisans they were as likely to be turned away, as liabilities, than embraced and saved.​

Forest fascination also relates to German Romanticism and the sagas & fairy tales of Germany. German Romantic painters, such as Casper David Friedrich, bestowed these forests with a mystical, transcendental presence; the Brothers Grimm were inspired by the forests when they wrote their macabre fairy tales. And the forest has always been the place of our darkest fantasies and represented a metaphor for entering the unknown.​

The Nazis were likewise obsessed with the forest, mythologising it as a symbol of the ‘Eternal Nation.’ Hermann Goring was quoted as saying: “We have become used to seeing the German nation as eternal. There is no better symbol for us than the forest, which has and always will be eternal.”​

Casper David Friedrich’s: ‘Cairn in Snow.’

Various rivers and forests from areas just south of Treblinka and north of Sobibor.

Memory Framed by the Narratives of Fiction and Non-Fiction

‘Spielberg used black and white, or particular multi-tonal variants of black & white with lots of silvers and greys, not only because he was trying to make his images appear like those seen in newsreels, which are memories for some, and memories of memories for most, but also because he was citing cinema history …. Yosefa Loshitzky adds: ‘the memory recaptured and relived through Schindler’s List is not an authentic re-experienced memory but a cinema memory produced and recycled by the movie industry.’ – Brad Pager: After The Fact.

The ruins of the Plaszow Concentration Camp are in fact the former film-set for Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, a fake construct of a real atrocity site built in the nearby Liban quarry. The Liban Quarry was used as a work site for prisoners but not the location for the camp. However, you can see stills from the film, with the camp set within the quarry and Amon, played by Ranulph Fiennes, taking pot shots at Jews. Nowadays people visit for tours and local boys hang around. This, thus becomes a complicated mixture of fictionalised memory, Hollywood narrative, and real memory and brings into question what constitute authentic memory when historical events have been recreated and reframed. Of course, the irony and the potency of any movie narrative is that it then creates its own memories, which occupy the mind like implants – thus, as I walk around Kazimierz I remember scenes as if they were real memories.

Oscar Schindler’s desk at Oscar Schindler’s Enamel Factory.

Amon Goth’s home, 22 Heltmana Street, Krakow. Tour parties are brought to this location, as part of the Schindler Tour, to look at the infamous abode where, according to film lore, Amon Goth shot Jews from his balcony. In actual fact, the house is too far from the Plaszow camp for him to have had a view of the barracks.

Photographs of the interior of the house. And 22 Heltmana Street fully renovated.

Tree, in winter and summer, on the site of the Plaszow Concentration Camp.

Boys hanging out at the quarry; this group were actually making a film, using the abandoned film set as a backdrop.

Sacred, Abandoned, Replica & Re-imagined

My travels roughly followed the Chassidic Route, that once linked key cities and towns with a rich culture of Hasidic Judaism. I travelled around the south-eastern region of Poland and the north western area of Ukraine, looking for signs of this once vibrant Jewish life. The Hasidic movement began in the middle of the eighteenth century in Galicia on the Polish-Romanian border and in the Volhynia region of the Ukraine. I visited some of the towns that once held sizeable Jewish populations, visiting what remained of the Jewish Cemeteries and the Synagogues, a few still in use for religious prayer but most either derelict or transformed into exhibition spaces, libraries or storage spaces.

In Bilgoraj I visited the Replica Woooden Synagogue, a reconstruction of the Great synagogue of Wolna, formerly in Belarus, and part of a replica shtetl.  The synagogue set within a scrap of wasteland between Centrum and the ring road. It is a small plot, a building site, but the synagogue looks magnificent. Kinga shows me around. She tells me that the surrounding wooden houses, all beautifully constructed out of pine, have upper floor apartments which are rented accommodation to help pay for the building work. Eventually the spaces below will become shops or museum display rooms which will form the sides of the market–place. It is, very much, a work in progress. Funding has dried up and they are waiting to hear from the European Fund. I notice that the designs for the interior look oriental and she informs me that the original decorations were influenced by Turkish design. “There once were 241 wooden synagogues,” she informs me; “the Germans burnt down every single one.” We talk about the torrid history of Poland: “Stalin once said that Poland is like the tumour on the ass of Europe! In 1939,” she adds, “the Russians pushed the Germans out of the area but not for long. They warned the Jews that a holocaust was coming and offered for them to come with them to Russia. Five hundred families went to Russia and they survived; those that stayed were sent to Belzec and all died.”

I pass the derelict synagogue in Orla. Orla is a tiny hamlet north of Lublin, towards Bialystock, barely a dozen streets but nestled in its midst is a marvellous stone synagogue. It is, unfortunately, inaccessible, as the man with the key is out clearing snow, but presents a grand facade.

I photograph the distinctly salmon pink synagogue of Szczebrzeszyn, now used as offices and performance hall, and the beautifully preserved synagogue of Jozefow, now used as a library. In Przemysl the remaining synagogue is Jewish owned but boarded up; the Great Synagogue of Przemysl was partly demolished by the Germans in 1939 and 1941and finished off by the Russians in 1956.

In L’viv the Val Vihula Shul is being renovated but is still in use by the local Jewish community, the smaller of the two remaining synagogues in a city that once boasted forty synagogues. In Chortkiv the Old Synagogue was used for storage and the bust of Lenin has been placed in the cellar.  Kazimierz Dolny Synagogue is used as a museum for local Jewish history. However, the Synagogue in Sataniv is perfectly restored. This is an impressive example of a fortress synagogue, originally built in 1565 to fend off Tatar and Muscovite raiders. The local cemetery is a pilgrimage site for visiting Hassidic Jews, mostly from Israel, and the synagogue has been restored by the Hassidic community to pristine condition.

Tykocin Synagogue, also in pristine condition, is by contrast a public museum. The interior is completely intact. It’s central Bimah has four ornate columns forming a square with a raised floor. The Ark is set into the side wall with wooden steps leading up to it. The man on the ticket desk gives me an audio tape which describes the Jewish community as an ancient tribe that liked to build their synagogues near running water! There is no hint that this was a very recent population or description of the brutal tragedy that robbed them of their tradition and lives. An attendant tells me that the last Jew was shot in the nearby forest but that the last religious service was in 1974. An adjacent corridor houses a small museum gallery, with ‘trinkets’ placed in glass cabinets, like ancient relics: the Menorah candlestick, a Tallis shawl, some prayer books – history neatly consigned to museum status, stripping it of its currency.

In Kazimierz, the famous Jewish quarter of Krakow, I visit numerous synagogues that still exist and are used in a variety of ways, from library to museum to actively functioning synagogue. Krakow was a peculiar anomaly in the War as it was very largely left unspoilt; the Germans felt that the city was a German city, as it had been a part of the German region and Hans Frank, as Governor General, had set up his base at Wawel Castle (with his loot of stolen art including Da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an Ermine Coat’). The Nazis claimed that the city was an urdeustche Stadt, an Ancient German City, and even founded a pseudo-scientific institute to prove the city’s German roots through historical research. I visited the Wolf Popper synagogue in Krakow, now a Jewish bookshop; Izaak Synagogue, the largest Synagogue in Krakow and still functioning as a prayer house; the Remah Synagogue just set off of the famous Szeroka Square in Kazimierz; the Kupa Synagogue, preserved but not in use as a prayer hall.

In Dynow, in the foothills of the Tatras, Southern Poland, I visit the Pilgrimage Centre, where visiting Hassidic Jews stay whilst visiting the Ohel of the famous Tzadik, or righteous one, Tzvi Elemenich ben Pesach, creator of the Dynow Jewish dynasty. The pilgrimage centre is a strangely unassuming block with no indication from the outside of it’s significance inside.

In Lublin I meet Pawel, custodian of the small prayer room on Lubertowska Street. He unlocks two big padlocks of an iron gate and then the mortis lock and we entered a cluttered hall, as if entering an antiquarian shop. Pawel unlocks another door and we enter a room with walls lined with photographs: an archive of photographs that people have donated to him for safe keeping. He opens another door that leads to a small room with an Arga and then another door and we enter a larger room that serves as synagogue. The SeferTorah is housed in a wardrobe and Pawel unrolls it for me. He brings out Tefillin with original prayer parchment still inside; Shofar horns fashioned from a goat horn and a more ornate one from antelope.There is a cabinet full of scavenged Jewish trinkets and a wooden chest full of old prayer books which, he tells me, are Genizah: damaged or heretical texts. I realise that I am in Pawel’s very special space, and that Pawel is the custodian of authentic memory of the Jewish past without any sentimentality.

I also photographed the replica wooden home at Sanok Museum of Folk Architecture.

Memory Framed by the Narrative of Amnesia

‘Freud taught us that memory and forgetting are indissolubly linked to each other, that memory is but another form of forgetting, and forgetting a form of hidden memory.’     – Andreas Huyssen: ‘Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory’ (p17)

I travelled within the inverted triangle formed by the three death camps of Treblinka,  Sobibor and Belzec ~ the epicentre of Operation Reinhardt: The Final Solution. I saw dilapidated wooden houses in Kock that once housed Jewish families. Kock is famous for it’s wooden houses, small wooden dwellings, formerly the homes of Jewish families. It’s most notable Jewish inhabitant was Menachem Mendel Morganstern, the famous Tzadik of Kock. I photograph his former residence, with its distinctive polygon turret and capture the scowling old man who lives here now, old enough, perhaps, to remember when Jews lived here?

As we drive out of Sataniv, Ukraine, we pull over at a derelict house, which we are told was once a Jewish home, part of a thriving shtetl. The building is noticeably bigger than the homes around it and we are told that it would have been used as a place of business, a tavern with stable area for horses. The windows are large with wide overhanging awnings because they would have served as shop windows to sell to passing travellers. Several families might have lived in a home lie this, working together to run a business. It is a time capsule: there is old wooden furniture, upended like in any derelict property, and straw on the floor. This could be original furnishings as this house has clearly not been lived in for a long time.

I photograph various elderly Polish people, occupying homes in former Jewish areas.

In Lviv I photograph Andriy with blue aeroplane, outside the maternity hospital. This was formerly the Jewish hospital and continued to function as a general hospital during and after war years. Andriy is standing in the grounds of the former Jewish cemetery.

In Chortkiv I photograph a pharmacy where Marta Goren Vinter’s mother worked. During the Nazi occupation of the city Marta’s mother was allowed to leave the Jewish ghetto to work in the pharmacy. She was thus able to smuggle Marta out & hide her with neighbours. Marta was raised as a Catholic, survived the war and currently lives in Israel.

In Brody I photograph the Gymnasia (Jewish School). The school is now a general high school.

Portraits Related to Varied Ways of Remembering

As part of my research project I have talked to many people, including tour guides, lecturers, museum curators, historians, ethnographers, archaeologists, artists, performers, archivists, curators, librarians and taxi drivers. ​On the 30th June 2017 I flew to Krakow and then took the train to Lublin to join the Lubliner’s Reunion, an event organised by the Grodzka Gate Teatr NN as part of the 700th Anniversary of founding of the City. The Teatr NN wanted to remember the history of the local area, the eradication of the town’s Jewish population, and sent out an invite to Jewish people from around the world with family links to the city and the Lublin area. The Theatre Company moved into the Brama Grodzka (Jew Gate) in 1990 and became intrigued by the history of this gate and the surrounding area: Grodzka Gate is directly in the centre of where the Lublin Jewish quarter once had been, the vibrant Jewish Quarter before it was ghettoised and then liquidated by the Germans. In 1998 the theatre was renamed the ’Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre.’ It is now a theatre company, an educational group and a historical archive centre holding an extensive and growing archive on the Jewish history of the area. The focus is very much upon memory, place and presence: memory of the former Jewish area and the meaning of the Gate. The Lubliner Reunion in July 2017 gathered together about 250 Jewish people seeking their own personal & family genealogy and contact with others sharing similar familial history. The Teatr NN presented & provided a platform for theatre, film, klezmer music, educational talks, tours of atrocity sites and discussion groups.

Polish people greeting the Jews (with home-made Cholah) ~ Belzec Memorial Museum. A form of philo-semitism.

Judy Josephs and Rose Lipszyc, Survivors of the Lublin Ghetto ~ between March and April 1942 over 30,000 Jewish people were transported from the Lublin Ghetto to their deaths at Belzec. Here Judy is being interviewed at Belzec Museum. Ruth tells me that her mother hadn’t wanted to come back to Poland, was not going to talk Polish and definitely was not going to talk about her experiences whilst she lived here ~ now she is being interviewed & filmed at Belzec Museum about her childhood experiences of surviving the war and she is speaking in fluent Polish! She remembers that a non-Jewish Polish man had saved her life: he’d told the Germans that she was his daughter; brought out documents to prove it. Judy Josephs is here with her family, including her niece Rose Lipszyc; both she and her niece, who is only a year younger than her, survived the war. They were both here in Lublin and lived on Lubartowska Street. Laubartowska Street still exists but the rest of the Jewish Quarter is erased. They both remember dancing in the streets.

Krzysztof Banach, Exhibition Curator, Majdanek Museum. Krztstof’s principal job is Curator of Exhibitions at Majdanek Memorial Museum; however he is also part time tourist guide and a historian with special interest in the Jewish history of the Lublin region. He has been part of a team working on the Districts of Extermination exhibition, collecting together archival images of Lublin before and during the ghetto period. Krzystof shows me a book of drawings made during the German Occupation, Drawings on the Scraps of Life: graphic sketches of dead bodies lying by the train tracks, a decapitated forearm, prisoners behind barbed wire. Krzystof tells me that the artist drew on scraps of paper, the corners of newspapers. He has managed to source a copy of an original newspaper used and placed a drawing perfectly over the original, accurately ascertaining the date of the drawing. This is the first time that the drawings of the artist have been gathered together; the pictures were bequeathed by Miriam Nowicz who had been searching for source material documenting the Holocaust.

Szymon is an artist and he is working on a project titled ‘Forgetting the Holocaust in order to Remember.’ He recounts the story of a Rabbi who was asked to help a boy who spent all his time under the table making the noise of a turkey. Nobody knew what to do about it; the boy refused to come out and eat his meals at the table. It was embarrassing but the boy appeared oblivious. So the rabbi went under the table too and started to make turkey noise. Soon they were both talking turkey under the table. This went on for some time but eventually the boy came out with the Rabbi and begun to eat normally again at the table. Szymon tells me that his artwork will be under the table; people will have to enter into his space to hear his sounds and to hear his words: he will be talking about being Jewish. Szymon is not Jewish but he is very interested in Hasidic history and in reimagining the past. His studio is located on Lubertowska Street, as close to being the former Lublin Jewish Ghetto as is possible (the rest of the ghetto, the rest of the former Jewish district of Lublin, was completely erased by the Germans). Here he collects objects which are memories which become concepts and coalesce into intellectual ideas.

Joanna Zetar, Brama Grodzka Theatre, Lublin ~ talking about Memory of Place.

Emil Majuk, Brama Grodzka Theatre ~ co-founder of the Shtetl Routes Guidebook & On-line Map. Emil has been part of a small team that have compiled both an interactive on-line map and guide book (currently only in Polish & Ukrainian) to the former Jewish towns and villages: a guide book to the past. I photograph him in his office amidst the clutter of reference books and publications. Emil tells me that he comes from a small town near to Chelm and that his mother was a librarian; the library was built into the former Synagogue. His mother had an interest in Jewish history and he picked up this fascination. His interest in Jewish history, he tells me, is an integral part of his Polish identity.

Jacek, Polish photograher, Przemysl. Jacek has photographed Jewish life in Lviv and the local Jewish cemetery in Przemysl.

Waxwork dummy at the Polonia Wax Museum, Krakow, of Maksymilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Friar who, according to the museum desrciption, ‘volunteered to die instead of a stranger in the German death camp Auschwitz on August 14th 1941.’

Valentyna at the Mandragora Restaurant, Lublin. Valentyna is a non Jewish Ukrainian. The Mandragora styles itself as an authentic Jewish restaurant serving kosher menu; it stats on its website that it offers ‘an authentic trip inside the Jewish culture and tradition.’ It even offers Shabbat night and live Klezmer music! It is, though, strikingly inauthentic, in the way that all themed restaurants are: a show piece to the cliche of memory.

Bohdan, waiter at the Golden Rose Jewish themed restaurant in Lviv. The restaurant has a reputation for being anti-semitic: waiters dressed up as Jewish stereotypes, with fake peyots (side-locks) and a ‘haggling’ system for the bill. The restaurant is adjacent to the former Golden Rose Synagogue which, save the rear wall, was completely destroyed during the war. The area is now a memorial site opposite an outdoor restaurants which occupies the space of another erased synagogue.

The fake rabbi tour Lviv.

Wooden figurines of Jewish stereotypes, Kazimierz, Krakow. These tourist trinkets are on sale in tourist offices, restaurants, gift shops and even the Izaak Synagogue. They are ‘the old bearded stereotypical Jew from the Judenrat’ and beg the question of whether they are an example of philo-semitism or anti-semiitsm (philo-semitism being an idealisation of the Jews often linked to guilt or unease about the Holocaust).

Memory as Forensic Evidence

The Jewish Cemetery in Oswiecim was established mid Eighteenth Century. Like most Jewish Cemeteries in Poland it was destroyed by the Nazi Germans during the Second World War. The Germans dug a pit dead centre of the cemetery, creating a small reservoir, and laid water pipes, displacing tombstones and bodies alike. They also built two bunkers and the remains of a work camp have been found behind the cemetery where there is now a hospital. The Nazi Germans cleared the site of its Matzevahs but in the eighties restoration work was begun by Asher Sharf and many of the headstones that had been taken away were returned, still in relatively good condition. The Matzevah in the cemetery have now all been stood upright and placed in rows; the cemetery become a lapidarium of recovered stones. Placement numbers are scribed onto the back of some, corresponding to a placement map, however there are no corresponding bodies below.​

​As well as the Cemetery restoration, carried out by the Matzevah Foundation, there were a team of student  forensic archeologists, led by Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls, that were carrying out non-invasive forensic archaeology; Jewish tradition has it that the soul remains where the body dies and is not to be disturbed, even in a mass grave and atrocity site. Jewish cemeteries, like the forests at the edge of town, were often places of mass shootings. Jews that escaped deportation but were subsequently rounded up would have been brought to the cemeteries and shot. ​Memories are not being dug up here but they are being revealed with forensic detail.

Steven D Reece, Baptist Minister, founder of the Matzevah Foundation, clearing weeds at the Oswiecim Jewish Cemetery ~ working in partnership with the Staffordshire University, the Auschwitz Jewish Centre and a local scout group.

Katie with Geophysical Survey Ground Scanner.

The archeological dig at KL Plaszow, south of Krakow, was uncovering the foundations of a house. I was informed that this was Amon Goth’s first home, just across from the latrine block and close enough to the barracks to shoot Jews from his balcony!

Memory as the Subtext to Terror

The walk to the Umschlagplatz in Lublin follows the route that the Jews marched out of the ghetto, the last stage before their deportation to the death camps. This walk roughly follows the ghetto boundary before arriving at site of the former local slaughterhouse. The Umschlagplatz was the holding station before deportation; from here the Jews were loaded onto trains. This walk is a funeral wake. It is punctuated by stops ~ stops and short speeches, explanations along the way: here is remembered where a Jewish woman was shot in the head and fell to the ground moaning, fatally wounded but not yet dead; here a woman shot dead and left for two days until the men in black vans came to take the dead away.

Letters from the Rzeszow State Archive. These letters were written by Russian Jews, to Polish authorities, seeking information both during and after the war regarding the fates of their families. These are samples from 987 scanned documents held at the Archive.

Bullets, collected by Jacek from the Przemysl area.

Various Museums: ’In many museums, the ritual objects on display, beautiful in themselves, constitute treasures put together in an artificial context, objects “out of function”. In fact, though, the very presence of the objects, on display as out of context museum pieces, provides a powerful subtext, concealing “a hidden history of terror.” – Ruth Ellen Gruber, Virtually Jewish. 

Relics of the Jewish World of Galicia, State Museum of Ethnography & Artistic Crafts, Lviv. This collection of Jewish relics was previously stored at the Lviv Jewish Museum; however the Jewish Museum was liquidated by the communists in 1940 and its contents moved to other museums in Lviv, where they were kept hidden from both Nazis and then Communists, both of whom had poiltical agendas to destroy them.

The Tale of Przemyśl Jews Exhibition at the National Gallery, Przemysl, a permanent exhibition devoted to the history and culture of Przemyśl. To quote: ‘The exhibition aims to bring back a picture of the old, culturally colourful city.’