| 2016 |
Wojciech Korfanty Technical and General High School Complex No 1
Chorzów is located in the Silesian province and has 111,000 inhabitants. The first Jews arrived here at the end of the 18th century. In 1860 they were around 600, whereas in 1931 more than 2,800. There are very few places preserved today which relate to the Jewish history. At the spot where the synagogue used to be, now a supermarket and a restaurant are located. A small monument in the shape of matzevot stands as a reminder of the Jewish cemetery that once was here. The building of the Jewish school and the townhouse where Franz Waxman spent his childhood are preserved today. Waxman is a Jewish musician who wrote music to more than 200 movies and has been awarded 2 Oscars.
During the workshops the students from Chorzów rediscovered the history of their town. “I learned many interesting information and things: where the synagogue or the school were located, who got an Oscar, how Jews lived here. I am very moved by all this, and at the same time shocked that so much was going on in this town,” Kamila, one of the workshops participants, recalled. The young people also gained experience in working on projects. “This project taught me many useful skills, as how to communicate in a group, work in team, research information and be responsible,” Piotr said.
The students worked very hard on preparations to the walking tour. They searched for additional information in many different sources. They scoured scientific publications, carried out a street survey, met with Alex Danzyg, an employee of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
They also took part in a lecture “A Classic Against His Will. How History Threw A Spanner In The Works of Waxman”, organized by Museum in Chorzów. The young people also visited the Upper Silesian Jews House of Remembrance, where they went to the cemetery and participated in a workshop about Jewish burial traditions.
“By gathering in front of the Town Hall, you entered a space and time portal and went back in time to the beginnings of the 20th century.” This was the information handed to participants of the final walking tour, i.e. location-based game “In The Search of Lost Community – Following the Footsteps of Jews of Chorzów”. On December 9, many attractions awaited five groups of junior high students. Carrying envelopes (with instructions on the game, maps, tasks, descriptions of places, a bag for chocolate money and a team card), they began the tour to reach next stops. The students learned about the history, architecture and fate of the synagogue at the spot where it used to stand. They also learned about the first rabbi, they put together puzzles and solved a quiz. Also, they could carry out a street survey. At Kazimierza Wielkiego Street, the participants discovered the history of the Jewish school and learned about Ernst Goldschmidt, one of the students. Here, older students offered them some matzo and challah. They also had a task to accomplish: assign the names of rooms to its functions. What is more, those students who showed interest could learn how to count in Hebrew. At Wolności Street, where the cinema used to be located, the participants were introduced to the life of Franz Waxman – his journey from Chorzów to Hollywood.
They could impersonate him and send a telegram describing excitement after winning an Oscar. The participants also discovered the story about the life of Juliusz Stern, a merchant of tea and spices. By the townhouse where he lived, the students having their eyes closed, could try to recognize the taste of chili, ginger or cinnamon. When they reached the Museum, the junior high students saw part of the exhibition “Violet Looks Good On Her… Costumes From Chorzów by Barbara Ptak” and extracts from the musical “Fiddler On The Roof”. They also found out what “shtetl” means, and they solved a test at the end. All teams also went to the restaurant “Pod Drewnianym Bocianem” to enjoy some refreshments. While waiting for a pizza, they tried to complete more tasks: solve quizes, make drawings of things invented by the Jews, learn how to write Hebrew letters. At Krzywa Street, where the Jewish cemetery used to be, the participants learned about the burial traditions and the fate of the cemetery. Then, they searched photos with symbols from mazevot hidden in the park area, and then assigned them to the received descriptions. Some could create a living sculpture. After completing all the tasks, the participants went to school. Snacks awaited them there. While the committee was counting points and preparing diplomas, the junior high students played a board game. The board game created by the older students was very appreciated. Moreover, the guests could try their luck at dreidel. The students also asked participants to evaluate the location-based game and indicate its strong and weak points.
At the end of this day, an MP Danuta Pietraszewska congratulated the organizers, participants and their leaders. Sylwia Tkocz, the principal, also made a speech. The winners were awarded with prizes, and all the participants received gifts. The meeting ended with a song “Shalom Chaverim” sang by all present there.
The students also undertook many additional tasks. They wrote a petition to the president of Chorzów, asking to commemorate the synagogue, and gathered 2,000 signatures. They also prepared a happening “They Lived Here” commemorating the Jews of Chorzów. A discussion panel with experts was also organized “The Jewish Community In The Historical Memory Of The Town Inhabitants”. One of the project participants, Robert Śniegocki, together with the project leader Piotr Płonka, took part in a 3rd Nationwide Interdisciplinary Conference “Land, Coal And Steel – From Los Angeles To Sin City”, organized by History Institute of University of Silesia in Katowice and the Polish Historical Association. They gave a talk “Forgotten History – Jews In Chorzów In The 19th And 20th Century”. They talked about the history of the local community and the work on the School of Dialogue project. Moreover, the students organized a Jewish Culture Day at their school. During recess, music was played and students could play dreidel or try Jewish cuisine.
Wojciech Korfanty Technical and General High School Complex No 1
1st Award at 2016 School of Dialogue Gala
1st and 2nd year of Vocational Technical High School
Agnieszka Kasperczyk, Piotr Płonka
Aneta Ceglarek, Dorota Cieślik
In appreciation to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for supporting this educational program. Through recovering the assets of the victims of the Holocaust, the Claims Conference enables organizations around the world to provide education about the Shoah and to preserve the memory of those who perished.
In appreciation to Friends of the Forum for supporting the School of Dialogue educational program.