Memoria [EN] No. 14 (11/2018) - Page 23

Equally extensive and rich in teaching resources and work methods was the workshop conducted by Grzegorz Siwor from High School No. 16 in Krakow, titled 'Difficult Topics of the Lesson: How to Talk with Students about Indifference, Shmaltsovniks and Pogroms'. From the very onset, he pointed out that although teachers of humanistic subjects have multiple opportunities to discuss the topic of the Holocaust in their classes, they often shy away from the essence of the issue. They avoid such topics by fragmentarily “going through” the material and brushing it aside with a few clichés and phrases, or a more or less conscious defence against knowledge that could in whatsoever way violate the national and religious mythology and the identity status quo. In other words, the common practice in schools is to avoid topics about Jews. The workshop participants worked with a variety of cultural texts and source materials. The role of the executioner, victim and witness was discussed on the basis of Andrzej Brzozowski’s film At the Railway Track, which is the adaptation of one of Zofia Naukowska's medallions. The discussion also touched the difficult subject of crimes committed by Poles against hiding Jews. Here, the source of teaching material was fragments of Paweł Łoziński’s film Place of Birth. Władysław Strzemiński's series My Jewish Friends served as a pretext to analyse the role of a genocide crime witness. Poems by Zuzanna Ginczanka, Władysław Szlengel, Henryk Grynberg, Julian Kornhauzer and Adam Zagajewski were analysed, dealing with the subject of robbery of Jewish property, shmaltsovniks (a Polish expression for the blackmail of Jews in hiding or Poles helping Jews), and anti-Jewish pogroms committed by the Polish population during and after the war. The workshop classes were supplemented with the analysis of photographs documenting the robbery of Jewish property during the liquidation of the ghetto in Szydłowiec and the lynching of a resident of Grybowa, Ms Suchanowa, for rendering aid to Jews. The multitude of educational resources used and the subject of the workshop triggered a series of discussions and the profound reflections of the participants. It was noted that the subjects of the Holocaust, genocide, mass crimes and persecution of civilian populations raised during school lessons arouse an unusually strong and complex psychological reaction in young people, due to fear. It was also noted that discussing the topic of pogroms, murders of the Jewish population, shmaltsovniks and plunder of property is related to the sense of national identity of young people and the deconstruction of many myths and misconceptions present in the universal consciousness. The myth, for example, of Poland as the Christ of Nations and the innocent victim, is still alive. Pupils find it extremely difficult to identify with negative or criminal attitudes towards Poles. They display a tendency to rationalise, displace or negate them. It seems understandable that young people want to emulate heroes and draw inspiration from heroic attitudes. The question then is, how do we urge them to accept the diversity of human behaviour in the past, including evil? Participants who took part in the workshop by Karolina Jastrzębska-Mitzner from the POLIN Museum came to many interesting conclusions.

'About the Righteous with the Youngest. When and How to Start Talking?' is the title of the workshop during which teachers considered the issue at what age one can start learning about the Righteous. They also discussed what language to use when talking about such difficult matters with young people and what terms to use in describing the issues of help and rescue of the Jewish population during the Holocaust. The outcome of the workshop was the compilation of a catalogue of proposals and recommendations for those teaching the young ones about the Righteous.

The workshop entitled 'Hiding, Covering, Discovering: Experience of the Holocaust', led by Mirosław Skrzypczyk of the General Education School Complex in Skoczków, this year's winner of the Irena Sendler Award for 'Repairing the World', was devoted to presenting various dimensions of the Holocaust experience both by Jews and Poles in the regional dimension. The workshop focused on conversations, discussions, and mutual diagnoses, conclusions and observations, showing the multiplicity of experiences during the Holocaust as well as the interpretation of fragments of witnesses’ accounts recorded with video technology. Through the analysis of specific cases of Poles’ behaviours during the Holocaust in the region they hail from and which class teacher investigates, the participants of the workshop came to a joint conclusion concerning the proximity and significance of the Holocaust experience for the Polish society, as well. It was recognised that the problem of the Righteous, witnesses, outsiders is one of the most important contemporary humanities. It is regionie, z którego pochodzi i który bada prowadzący zajęcia, uczestnicy warsztatu doszli do wspólne-go wniosku o bliskości i znaczeniu doświadczenia Zagłady, także dla polskiego społeczeństwa. Uznano, że problem Sprawiedliwych, świadków, postronnych jest jednym z najważniejszych współczesnej humanistyki. Do badaczy i nauczycieli należy jego rozpatrywanie, badanie i popularyzowanie w polskim społeczeństwie.