The Engaged Memory Consortium is set up and led by three partner organizations from Poland: FestivALT from Krakow, Zapomniane Foundation from Warsaw and The Urban Memory Foundation from Wroclaw. The partners have been cooperating since 2020 and are implementing two major projects funded by the European Union from the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values program: “NeDiPa – Negotiating Difficult Pasts” (2022-2024) and “MultiMemo – Multidirectional Memory: Remembering for Social Justice” (2023-2025).
The core of the partners’ interest is dealing with neglected Jewish heritage sites in Europe, and particularly in Poland, where Polish, German, Jewish and other minority histories and legacies overlap and intertwine, pointing to the difficult European experience of the Holocaust and WWII. Currently there are no standards of working with such sites and the partners have an ambitious goal to develop best practices and policy recommendations on municipal, national and European levels. The partners form an expertise-based consortium that allows them to support each other with knowledge, know-how and best practice when working on specific cases.
In addition to the three partners the Consortium is formed by:
- CEJI – A Jewish contribution to an inclusive Europe (Brussels, Belgium)
- Foundation Formy Wspólne (Warsaw, Poland)
- JCC Warsaw (Poland)
- Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries (Warsaw, Poland)
- The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg (Germany)
- The Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (Germany)
and supporting/associated organizations:
- Zbliżenia Jewish Festival (Gdańsk, Poland)
- Jewish Community (Gdańsk, Poland)
- Lviv Centre for Urban History (Lviv, Ukraine)
- Brama Cukermana (Będzin, Poland)
- Jaw Dikh Foundation (Krakow, Poland)
The destruction of Polish and Central-Eastern European Jewish communities left behind a very troubling legacy that can be defined as „difficult heritage”. This difficult heritage consists of very different types of sites, such as abandoned, destroyed or inappropriately repurposed architectural heritage (synagogues, bathhouses, schools, etc.), neglected or desecrated Jewish cemeteries, unmarked burial sites of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as well as material remains of the infrastructure of genocide. Many of them have not been studied, precise locations of many burials remain unknown, which does not allow for the remains to be properly protected. Similarly the biographies of many of the victims are unknown. In the light of the raise of nationalism and mainstream nationalistic narratives across Europe as well as in the face of the ongoing violence and war in Ukraine, gathering and sharing knowledge of the long-lasting legacy of the Nazi genocide seems to be an urgent and relevant task. Particularly with respect to engaging with local communities and facilitating exchange of knowledge and best practices, which is one of the principle values of the partnership.
Goals & objectives
The consortium is aimed at creating and proposing an innovative approach to remembrance – one that underscores the relevance of remembering for social justice and facing contemporary challenges related to human rights violations, military conflicts and violence, social exclusion, the migration crisis and the rise of nationalisms. The objective of this new approach is to:
- advocate for a more inclusive remembrance practices & knowledge dissemination that contributes for further building of multifaceted identities in Europe,
- bringing the Jewish perspective into the forefront in the debates about the present state and potential futures of material heritage and difficult legacy of the WWII,
- serving as a point of contact and expertise for local actors dealing with the problematic legacies of WWII as well as contemporary social challenges;
- proposing innovative strategies and intersectional approach to remembrance, while fostering practice-based culture of remembrance, together with cross-sectorial cooperation involving arts, academia, urbanism, activism and policy making;
- supporting local communities, local community leaders and local authorities and activists in Europe with practical tools, inspirations, case studies and best practices in working with memory in the face of a contemporary war and refugee crisis.
- bridging the gap between Jewish-led organizations and other actors caring for the Jewish heritage (museums, local/national authorities etc.)