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Expedition to Świętokrzyskie

Expedition notes by Agnieszka Mendel:

While still in Poland, before the formal launch of the project, I was given a few initial tasks. One of them was to make a reconnaissance trip around the Świętokrzyski region following the route of Jewish synagogues. These are places we may visit with our songwork research in September. My guides were two Jewish gentlemen, originally from England and the US but now living in Poland. Within two days we visited five synagogues — in Działoszyce, Pińczów, Szydłów, Chmielnik, and Nowy Korczyn. Some were still in ruins, without roofs, after having been devastated by the Nazis. Others had been transformed into museums and memorials.

The photos above were taken along the way.

I speak now as an average citizen of Poland, not as someone who has studied this topic. These are my subjective feelings. During this tiny expedition, following the preserved traces of a nation and finding them every step here, suddenly I profoundly realised that Jews — in Poland — they lived everywhere. And now they are gone. Vanished. They are completely not present in the consciousness of the young generation. They rather belong to a mythical, semi-fairy-tale sphere of long bygone era of heroes and ancestors, together with the kings and saints. Today most Polish people imagine Poland as a land of homogenous society since forever. That is such a miseducation. I was truly overwhelmed. Following these traces and pieces I realised this truth: that Poland has pushed the Jewish nation out of memory.