Places of Remembering and Forgetting – a project for the Jewish cemetery on Gwarna Street

 

 

NEW SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS ABOUT GWARNA

 

 

At the end of 2023, two scientific publications were published presenting new research on the Jewish cemetery at Gwarna Street in Wrocław (formerly Claassenstrasse in pre-war Breslau). The first article analyzes, among others, maps and the pre-war Jewish press in Breslau and concerns the socio-political circumstances of two reductions of the cemetery area and exhumations in 1908 and 1937. The second publication presents a report on archaeological research and subsequent exhumations from 2017.

 

  1. Jabłońska A., 2023. Power, Politics and Protest in the Urban Landscape of Breslau/Wrocław. A Case Study of the Eighteenth-Century Jewish Cemetery on Claassenstrasse/Gwarna Street. In: Tim Buchen, Maria Luft (Eds), Breslau/Wrocław 1933–1949. Studien zur Topographie der Shoah. Neofelis Verlag, Berlin.
  2. Limisiewicz A., Kichler J., Jabłońska A. 2023. Jewish Cemetery at Gwarna Street (former Claassenstrasse) in Wrocław: Excavation Report from 2017 and Opportunities for Rescue and Commemoration. FASCICULI ARCHAEOLOGIAE HISTORICAE Vol. 36: Studies of Jewish Archeology of Medieval and Post-medieval Europe, pp. 119-134. DOI: 10.23858/FAH.
    Link to the article > here

Wrocław: outline of the 18th century Jewish cemetery on Gwarna Street (former Claassenstrasse) in the current urban fabric of the city.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

 

In 2021-2022 we were implementing our first project – Places of Remembering and Forgetting – planned in two cities, Wrocław and Kraków, for two places recognized as sites of Difficult Heritage. It was our first large initiative managed as a newly created civic society organization. We learned a lot in this process and we thank all the partners and donors who trusted us.

 

Together with partner organization FestivALT, the Urban Memory Foundation we employed the mechanisms of civic engagement and worked through tensions around the revitalization and commemoration of two sites in Poland – the Jewish cemetery on Gwarna Street in Wrocław and the former Nazi concentration camp in Płaszów, Kraków. UMF led and coordinated activities in Wrocław in partnership with the Wrocław House of Culture OP ENHEIM and Dom Pokoju Foundation. Among other activities, we conducted a social and information campaign for local residents about the Jewish heritage in their neighborhoods, and raised civic competences of local youth – two peer groups in Wrocław and Kraków cooperating with each other – who conducted and recorded conversations with the key stakeholders, especially local residents. We made  efforts to create conditions for building mutual trust and dialogue. The purpose was to provide foundations for developing a common vision for revitalization and commemoration of the two sites of Jewish heritage. As a result, we released a 30-page report documenting that work and the results form the interviews. An English summary of that document (available here in Polish) should be ready for publication by the end of 2023.

 

The project was financed by Norway Grants from the Active Citizens – National Fund, a program financed by the EEA Grants, and it has received honorary patronage of Hans Jörg Neumann, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Wrocław. In 2023 we continue to fund activities for the cemetery as part of the EU-funded grant (CERV program) called NeDiPa – Negotiating Difficult Pasts. 

 

“THREE EARTHS” BY ANNA SCHAPIRO

 

 

In September 2022, visual artists from Berlin Anna Schapiro accepted our invitation and created the artwork for Gwarna: “Three Earths”. She was referring to the history of the Jewish cemetery in Gwarna Street. The artwork is staying with us in the public space for even more months in 2023 and 2024 (initially it was expected to last for four months only). In September 2023, Anna went back to Wrocław and refreshed both place with new natural pigments (thanks to the NeDiPa project). This time, she was assisted by a group of UMF volunteers who signed up to help. We invite you to see two locations with Anna’s works revealing the topography and history of this forgotten place. Start your visit from Pl. Konstytucji 3 Maja, and there you will find further information. Come visit!

 

Anna Schapiro’s visual works move between sculpture and painting. Contrary to the classical idea of an artistic work with a fixed form, her works are flexible and often adapt to the selected location like a second skin. The given space is not only the place of appearance of her works, it also becomes an active carrier of the work.

 

In Wrocław, Schapiro uses mainly natural earth pigments when creating Three Earths, temporarily marking in two places (see dots on the map) the still visible borders of the former Jewish cemetery on Gwarna Street (former Claassenstrasse). In this way, the work brings out the previous historic and topographic layers of the place and shows its transformation in time.

 

Photo: ©Kremer Pigmente, Iris Schmidt

The pigments show the colorful spectrum that can be found within the earth – from yellows, greens, and reds to browns and more. Schapiro uses a fresco technique that she intentionally exposes to natural and urban forces: rain, wind, interacting with pedestrians and more.

 

Anna Schapiro is a visual artist and writer based in Berlin. Her works have been shown in Basel, Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Łódź, Lublin, New York, Porto, Stuttgart, and Wrocław among other places. To learn more visit: www.annaschapiro.com