| 2017 |
Markian Szaszkiewicz High School Complex No 2
Out of all towns in Poland, Przemyśl is where the presence of a Jewish community was noted earliest, with first mentions of Jews living there dating back to the 1030s. Throughout the following thousand years, Jews formed a vital part of the multi-cultural population of Przemyśl. The history of Przemyśl Jews followed roughly the same beats as the history of Polish Jews in general – from royal privileges and development during the “golden” 16th century, through unrests deriving from social tensions and the tumultuous history of Poland, down to the parallel development of Hasidic and Zionist movements in the 19th century and the immense damages of the war. Despite the dramatic events that unravelled in the first half of the 20th century, the influence of the local Jewish community on Przemyśl is still visible in many public spaces. The traces of the town’s Jewish life were discovered by a group of students from the Markian Szaszkiewicz School Complex No. 2, a bilingual school from Przemyśl.
The students who volunteered to take part in the workshop greatly impressed the Forum tutors with their dedication and active participation. The themes tackled during the workshop took on an additional meaning thanks to the diversity of the project group – many of its members were Ukrainians, who could share their first-hand experiences as an ethnic minority living in Przemyśl. At the same time, preparing a walking tour as their competition entry gave these students an opportunity to become hosts in their own “little homeland”.
The students took the participants of the walk on a tour around places connected to the Jewish population of Przemyśl.
Some of the visited sites were: tenement house at Władycze Street with a mezuzah mark in the doorframe; the old cemetery, which today is mostly non-existent except for its entrance gate, and the buildings which once housed the Jewish hospital and retirement home; the Carmelite church, which before the war was an Eastern Catholic temple whose parish priest helped falsify Jewish birth records during the war; as well as the new cemetery, preserved to this day, with a number of modern graves, and the building of the Scheibach synagogue, where the participants of the tour could help themselves to refreshments. The students also showed archival photos of each site visited during the walk. The tour was not a one-off event – it was organised again in Ukrainian for the pupils with lesser knowledge of Polish and for the students of the East European State University.
The participants of the Przemyśl edition of the School of Dialogue did not forget about the youngest generations. Students attending the primary school and junior high school in the School Complex could take part in an outdoor game featuring fun tasks and interesting information. The students were divided into groups, each of which was given a map with seven marked spots. The groups were supposed to reach all the marked sites and learn something their history.
Among the sites were the Plac Rybi (Fish Square) – the former site of two synagogues, the area of the ghetto, a Jewish kindergarten, the Scheinbach synagogue, the old cemetery. After the game all participants gathered in the Ukrainian Centre, where they were offered refreshments and awarded books entitled O Żydach i Żydówkach (“About Jewish Men and Women”).
There were over 100 people participating in the activities organised by the students, which managed to garner the attention of the local media. Additionally, an exhibition on the pre-war Jewish community in Przemyśl was organised in the school with the use of archival photographs. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, the students of the Szaszkiewicz School Complex undoubtedly made a great impact on the local community. It was also an important experience for the students themselves. As stated by one of the participants of the School of Dialogue, “The workshop was more than just a regular lecture. It was a great lesson in tolerance, openness, and, most importantly, a spur to gain more and more knowledge.”
Markian Szaszkiewicz High School Complex No 2
a group of students from junior high school and high school
Maria Ficak, Anna Leskiw
Marcin Krotla, Małgorzata Kruszewska
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.