MultiMemo – Multidirectional Memory: Remembering for Social Justice



The MultiMemo project (2023-2024) proposes an intersectional 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, and the migration crisis. Drawing from the concept of ‘multidirectional memory’, the project discusses and initiates a variety of forms of active remembrance in the public spheres across several European countries – a remembrance that does not exist in a social vacuum, and instead underscores the urgent need to stand up to contemporary practices of violence and exclusion. 


MultiMemo’s point of departure is the troubling legacy of WWII in East Central Europe (ECE). The project focuses on sites and practices of ‘mutliple exclusion’ with respect to remembrance that are problematic or/and overlooked because the trauma of the Holocaust overlaps with other intricate social, historical or contemporary issues. Such sites in ECE also represent a form of legacy of both totalitarian regimes in modern history – National Socialism and Communism. The intersectional approach proposed by the project is relevant now more than ever, when we are experiencing – again, after almost eight decades of peace – a war in East Central Europe, in Ukraine, resulting in massive refugee and humanitarian crises.


The project is funded by the European Union (CERV-2022-REM) and involves nine European partners: FestivALT, UMF, Zapomniane Foundation, JCC Warsaw, the Formy Common Foundation, the Foundation for the Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries, CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg  and the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg.





The first meeting of the MultiMemo project took place on February 19-20, 2023 in Warsaw. Together with the partners of the consortium we discussed the project goals and approach and presented them to a larger audience. We started the event with walks around two Jewish cemeteries of Warsaw, Okopowa and Bródno, focused on the topic of approach to remembrance, the concept of green commemorations and various types of commemoration. Then, the event was focused on project planning, communication and coordination of work for the upcoming months between the partners. The purpose of this meeting was also to integrate project partners and set an efficient and clear cooperation model.

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In March, a ceremony was held in Tomaszów Lubelski and Pawłówka to commemorate the burial place of three Jewish children: Rywka, Balka and Jankiel, murdered during the Holocaust and buried near their home in Pawłówka. The highlight of the educational workshops was the ceremony of marking this place with a wooden matzeva. The workshops and the ceremony were attended by students of the 1st High School in Tomaszów Lubelski and students of the Primary School in Michalów, school directors, representatives of local authorities, museum employees, several residents, teachers and a local choir. A prayer for the dead was sung in Hebrew and Psalm 23 was read by a student. These were the first series of workshops carried out by the Zapomniane Foundation as part of the MultiMemo project. We would like to thank the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and the donor Szlomo-Albam-Stiftung for co-financing the workshops in Pawłówka “Reference Points” – creating a wooden matzevot.

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In April 2023, our partner, the Formy Wspólne Foundation, organized a consultation walk and meeting as part of the so-called MultiMemo Community Labs, which concerned the cemetery in Bródno – the oldest Jewish necropolis in Warsaw, and the conceptual project of its renovation. This project assumes presenting about 40,000 matzevot, which are currently decaying in the heaps in the central part of the cemetery. The first part of the meeting was a walk around the cemetery and getting acquainted with the unusual and tragic history of this place, as well as with its actual state. Thanks to this, the participants could better understand the assumptions of the project presented by the architects of the Foundation in the second part of the event at the Museum of Warsaw’s Praga. Apart from residents, the event was attended by activists from the Forum for Dialogue Foundation, researchers from the anthropology and cultural studies department, engineers, architects, and representatives of the Jewish Community from Warsaw and Sweden.

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On May 10-11, the Zapomniane Foundation organized a ceremony in Zamość commemorating the burial place of the Jewish family of Mendel, Chajka and Niura in Zrąb, murdered by a German military policeman in their home during WWII. The event was preceded by educational workshops, which began with the screening of the documentary film “Ukos Światła” directed by Wojciech Szumowski for students from two classes of the II High School in Zamość. After the film, there was a conversation with the representatives of the Foundation about the activities aimed at restoring the memory of the forgotten burial places of the Holocaust victims in the context of the events in the town of Zrąb. On the second day, workshops with a laser were held, during which students, together with the Foundation, prepared a wooden marker in the shape of a matzeva with an inscription containing the names of the victims, which they then placed at the burial place of a Jewish family in Zrąb, located less than 15 km from Zamość.

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JCC Warsaw conducted throughout April 16-23, 2023, a series of events “Polyphonies of Memory. Inclusive Memory of Warsaw”, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from a different perspective than usual. The aim of the series was to listen and conduct a multi-voiced narrative woven from the memories of the participants of these events and their descendants. These included discussions, walks, meetings and artistic projects that allowed for a multidimensional experience of the memory of the ghetto uprising and the Jewish inhabitants of the city, which today is inherited by the Jews of Warsaw and carried forward in many ways. The series included: 1) a meeting around the book “A matter of character. Fighters from the Warsaw Ghetto”; 2) a piano concert by Michał Michalski, a Polish pianist of the young generation, which was a tribute to the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto; 3) grassroots commemoration of the ghetto uprising on Szmul Zygielbojm Square and the surrounding streets, which ended at the Umschlagplatz; 4) ” Personal Memory” meeting with Józef Hen – Polish-Jewish publicist, film scriptwriter, playwright and author of many books, including biographical ones.

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Photo: Piotr Kulisiewicz (JCC)



On May 16, 2023, the Still Standing performative action took place in urban space in Warsaw. The event started in front of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes and ended on the terrace above the Muranów Cinema, located opposite the former Great Synagogue. “Still Standing” is a performative activity in which the body is treated as a living sculpture created in relation to a place. The action enters into dialogue with the historical choreography of Israeli choreographer Noa Eshkol, prepared by her for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and presented in 1953 at Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta’ot (Ghetto Fighters) in Israel. This year, 70 years later, as part of the MultiMemo project, our partner FestivALT together with the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Masovian Cultural Institute and PERFORM prepared it in a new version as part of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It was conceived as a commemoration of the destruction of the Great Synagogue, which took place on May 16, 1943, and thus as a gesture of denying the intentions of the Nazi devastation that accompanied its destruction. Using movement, choreography and narrative, Still Standing asks the question of care as a possible response to what remains of history – a care that takes us not only to the past, but also to the present and towards the future. 80 people were invited to the project – residents of Muranów, but also other people interested in recalling the memory.

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Photo: M. Jaźwiecki (POLIN)



On June 18, 2023, our partner organization Formy Wspólne from Warsaw gathered all stakeholders – individuals, representatives of the administration and social organizations – involved in the creation of the monument commemorating the Ringelblum Archive as well as local residents. The purpose was to start the next stage of cooperation and discussion on the future of the memorial and plans for educational and cultural activities to maintain the memory of the Archive and its creators – the Oneg Shabbat group. The event began with community work aiming at tidying up the area around the monument, and then finishing the planting of the hedge – the last and so far unrealized element of commemoration. The second part of the event took place at the Muranów Railway Station, where the organizers recalled the history of planning and designing the commemoration of the Archive, followed by a discussion.

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In June 2023, the Foundation for the Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries started a series of meetings for the local community entitled: “Memory poles. Strategies for rebuilding the identity of the Bródno Jewish cemetery”. The aim of the workshops is to restore the memory of the Bródno cemetery and to involve residents, activists, social organizations and local authorities in this process. During the first event, there was a walk through two large Jewish cemeteries in Warsaw located on opposite banks of the Vistula river, whose histories are completely different. The first one is the cemetery in Bródno, almost completely destroyed by the post-war regime and forgotten. Today, pioneering research and commemorative activities are carried out there. The second one is the cemetery at Okopowa Street, which continues to serve the local Jewish community and is visited by crowds of tourists and descendants. During the tour, the directors of both cemeteries presented the history of these places. Comparing the fate of both cemeteries, we discussed, among other things, how to restore its cultural character to the necropolis in Bródno.

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FestivALT – a 10-day festival of Jewish art, activism and education, is another event organized as part of the MultiMemo project by our project partner, the FestivALT Association. Between June 23 and July 2, 2023, 24 events of various profiles took place in Kraków: performances, discussions, city walks, workshops, exhibitions, created by authors and artists from Central and Eastern Europe, America and Canada. The theme of the festival was the concept of intersectional memory, with particular emphasis on “doykait” – a Yiddish word that can be understood as “here and now” or “Hereness”. It was an idea popularized in the interwar period by the Bund (Jewish Socialist Party) and was most often associated with the fight for Jewish rights and cultural autonomy wherever Jews lived. For the Bund, this meant advocating for the strengthening of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe and asserting a strong claim for a homeland in the diaspora, rather than being separated and relegated to Israel. For FestivALT, we used the concept of “Doykait” as a lens to promote contemporary intersectional Polish Jewish identity.

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The Zapomniane Foundation conducted participatory commemoration workshops on October 17, 2023, the topic of which was to commemorate the Jewish history of the city, the Jewish cemetery and the mass grave of Holocaust victims. The workshops were an attempt to transform the innovative commemorative practice we created – green commemorations – into a participatory event. The event began with a screening of the film “Ukos Światła”, and was followed by a meeting with the descendants of Kłuszyn Jews, Wiktoria Kurtz and her father Artur Kurtz. This was Victoria’s third visit to the school in her efforts to build long-term relationships with the local community. However, for her father, the son of Kałuszyn Jews, it was the first visit to the city and Poland. The aim of the workshops was to involve local youth – 7th grade students of the Primary School in Kałuszyn – in the process of long-term involvement in building and cultivating local Jewish memory. The third part of the workshop was a conversation with landscape architect Natalia Budnik, who, together with Victoria Kurtz, presented to the youth the idea of marking the boundaries of the Jewish cemetery and the mass grave with plants (in line with the idea of “green commemoration”). Together they presented the idea and brought to school plants selected for planting in the cemetery. After the workshops, the plants were planted in pots on the school grounds so that the youth could care for them throughout the winter and plant them in the cemetery in the spring.

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The exhibition was showcased at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Warsaw as part of the Singer’s Warsaw Festival, and it was open for viewing until September 8, 2023. The landscape serves not only as a backdrop to historical events but also as a witness and participant, preserving often subtle traces that can be a vital source of knowledge for researchers of the past. This approach has yielded new research perspectives and social activation efforts aimed at mobilizing memory for marginalized groups and events.

Our initiatives reflect this innovative approach to commemorating sites associated with the challenging history of Jews, Poles, and Roma, such as burial sites of civilians. The result of these efforts was the “Landscape Archive” exhibition, based on artistic research conducted by the Forgotten Foundation. The exhibition explores the traces of a difficult past, as well as new artistic tools and digital techniques for studying topography without physical interference, departing from traditional archaeology.

The exhibition aimed to propose a new approach to commemoration and memory, embracing a more interdisciplinary combination of art, activism, and science. The grand opening of the exhibition brought together 155 people from 8 EU countries and four non-EU countries. Researchers, cultural heritage professionals, representatives of social organizations, community leaders, educators, and decision-makers, including representatives of the Jewish community in Warsaw and organizations responsible for managing Jewish heritage, were among the participants. Tourists visiting Warsaw for the festival also engaged with the exhibition. The festival format ensured not only attendance but also garnered media attention in Poland.

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On October 19, 2023, in Łęczna, the Forgotten Foundation conducted workshops for youth near the burial site of approximately 1000 Jews from the same town. The workshop consisted of two parts: “green” commemoration and creating “memory stones.” The first part was led by landscape architect Natalia Budnik, who engaged the youth in her project involving the use of plants in commemorative practices. Participants planted vegetation around the burial site and the planned monument. The second part resulted from collaboration with the monument conservator, Magda Olszowska, who was involved in designing the monument in Łęczna. In the session, she implemented her idea of creating “memory stones” made from marble flour using silicone molds. After explaining Jewish burial practices and the significance of stones in commemoration to the youth, she instructed the young participants in crafting “memory stones” by hand. These stones were prepared for the commemorative ceremony to be placed on the tombstone following Jewish tradition.


The workshops took place a few weeks before the commemorative ceremony (7.11.2023), attended by youth, town residents, clergy of three denominations, local authorities, representatives of various social organizations, as well as descendants of Jews from Łęczna and the Jewish community from Lublin. The youth had the opportunity to witness the results of their work and place the “memory stones” next to the monument.


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The Zbliżenia Festival, which took place from September 6 to November 12, 2023, in Gdańsk, encompassed events related to Polish-Jewish-German relations, the position of women in the modern world, and the interplay of Jewish, Polish, and German cultures. The festival featured numerous events:


  1. Radio play “The Devil Resided in Europe” (September 7, 2023): Inspired by true events from World War II, it narrates the story of a German resident of Gdańsk who, with the help of Poles, saved three Jewish girls from the Stutthof concentration camp. A discussion with the audience followed the radio play presentation.
  2. Poetry concert “Kinot” (September 12, 2023): Renowned poet Jarosław Lipszyc presented works inspired by Jewish elegiac and ritual literature. The event aimed to enrich participants’ knowledge of Jewish tradition and culture while addressing the theme of loss. Attendees varied in age and cultural backgrounds.
  3. Concert by Mari K. “Di szajchesen – Connections” (September 13, 2023): A unique performance of traditional Jewish songs using contemporary artistic means. Songs covered current social topics and multiple identities, presented in Polish, Yiddish, and English.
  4. Lecture “Around the Great Synagogue” (September 14, 2023): A meeting with the author Jacek Bielak, discussing his book containing scientific articles about the largest Jewish temple in Gdańsk, destroyed by the Nazis. Participants learned about the architecture and history of the Great Synagogue.
  5. Anti-discrimination workshops for children from Gdańsk Children’s Homes (October 12, 2023): Aimed at raising awareness of discrimination, the workshops covered two age groups and addressed stereotypes and reactions to violent situations.
  6. Art workshops for students and children (November 7-8, 2023): Held in the New Synagogue, these workshops focused on creating an art installation related to the events of Kristallnacht in Gdańsk in November 1938. Integration of young people from different backgrounds was a key aspect.
  7. Gdańsk Celebration of the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht (November 12, 2023): Commemorating the pogrom committed by German Nazis in 1938, the event included speeches, an art installation, reading excerpts from “The Traveler” by Ulrich Aleksander Boschwitz, live music, and a candle-lighting ceremony. The aim was to integrate people from various social backgrounds and age groups. Approximately 70 people attended, including members of the Jewish community and residents of Gdańsk and the Tri-City area.


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UMF organized a series of three events in Wrocław over two days, 23 & 24 November 2023, around the book launch “Breslau/Wrocław 1933 – 1949: Studies on the Topography of the Shoah” discussing the themes connected to the MultiMemo project. The series included: 1) Academic session, 2) Public session as part of the series OP_BOOKS and 3) Guided City Walk through Jewish places related to history of the Shoah discussed in the book. UMF together with partners, Dresden University of Technology, the Department of Jewish Studies of the University of Wrocław, OP ENHEIM Foundation and the German-Polish Foundation for the Protection of Cultural Monuments invited the academic community and general audience in Wrocław to a series of meetings with the editors, Maria Luft and prof. Tim Buchen and the co-authors of the book, Annelies Augustyns, Karolina Jara, Agnieszka Jabłońska and Daniel Ljunggren.


In the book, which was the focus of our series of events, the authors take a new look at the history of the Holocaust in Wrocław. The interdisciplinary team selected various perspectives and contexts in which exclusion, persecution and extermination occurred in urban space and reconstructed places and spheres of Jewish life: work and housing, religion and politics, art and culture. The effects of the Holocaust were also examined in retrospect – for example in relation to cemeteries, city cartography, memories of Wrocław or archival sources regarding the Holocaust. The talks during the series of events concerned, among others: the importance of topography and the adopted unusual time frame of research, 1933–1949, as opposed to the usual look at the history of Wrocław before and after 1945. The adopted perspective allowed us to notice the interconnection of worlds, the pre- and post-war ones, and to notice the continuity of some processes, such as functioning of the school in the building at the current Żelazna Street, liquidation of the Jewish cemetery at Gwarna Street, or contemporary challenges related to the preservation and commemoration of some places, such as the area of the New Synagogue at Łąkowa Street, where the 19th-century foundations of the building are still located.


The book is the result of several years of research work by an international interdisciplinary team of 22 people from 6 countries, conducted in 2018–2021 by the Dresden University of Technology. It was published in October 2023 by Neofelis Verlag, and the texts were written in English or German. Link to publication. Link to the photo reportage from the public book launch. 


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