The Gate of Memory – English version
The Grodzka Gate is an important landmark of Lublin. It used to be called 'the Jewish Gate', as it separated, or rather joined, Christian and Jewish parts of the city, becoming a passage between two different worlds. When in 1992 the NN Theater moved into the Grodzka Gate, its members understood that thus they became responsible for saving memory about Polish and Jewish Lublin.
The Grodzka Gate Heritage
First traces of Jews in Lublin come from the 16th century. The oldest, but not evidenced, trace of Jewish settlement in Lublin is information about king Casimirus the Great's privileges for Jews in 1336. However, the oldest material trace of Jews presence in Lublin is rabbi Jehuda Halevi Kopelman's tombstone from 1541, situated in the old Jewish cemetery.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Jewish city began to develop quickly, mainly due to good economic conditions. Nevertheless, already in 1535 Lublin was assigned a De non tolerandis Judeis law,which banned Jews from settling inside the city walls. This contributioned to development of Podzamcze region, surrounding the castle, and educing Jewish district there.
In Lublin, Jews played a vital role in many fields of the city's development. Thiscparticularly concerned religious life, due to which Lublin was called "The Polish Kingdom Jerusalem"; science, thus Lublin was given a name of "Jewish Oxford"; culture – among others, development of one of the first Hebrew printing houses in Poland, and economic life.
The interwar period was a time of big expansion of the Jewish community in Lublin. 15 Jewish schools were open in Lublin at that time, Yiddish newspapers were published, amateur theatre developed. Jews were also active on Lublin political scene.
When the Second World War broke out, 42 000 Jews lived in Lublin, constituting about 1/3 of the city's population.
The Second World War brought about the extermination of Lublin Jews. The destroying of the Jewish district left a vast gap in the city. A few-hundred-year development of bicultural, Polish-Jewish city came to its end. Dozens of years had passed and new Lublin forgot about this Polish-Jewish city, about the crowded streets, houses and synagogues that used to fill empty spaces around the Lublin Castle.
The Memory Gate Programme
The gate is an important sign for us, but also a symbol of the past, so our program aiming at recovering memory about Polish-Jewish Lublin is called "Memory Gate". The program has been driven by the "Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre" Centre since 1990s. It's purpose is to gather and present articles, documents and testimonies related with Lublin Jews, their lives and activities. With time, the Memory Gate program developed and embraced artistic, educational and publishing activities, concentrated around the subject of Jewish cultural heritage in Lublin and Lublin region.
The Memory Gate Portal – Lublin Jews
The portal presents content concerning religious life (houses of prayer,Yeshivah),daily life (how Jews celebrated their religious holidays, such as: Sabbath, Pesah, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Simchat Torah as well as Jewish children's games and pastimes), economic life (trade, industry and craftsmanship), political and cultural (traditional Jewish art, modern art, sepulchral art, iconography concerning Lublin Jewish district, Jewish theaters and press) of the Lublin Jewish community.
The Memory Gate Portal – Lublin Jews also provides an opportunity to learn about many Jews who lived in Lublin and who were related with Lublin and contributed to the city's development.
The part on Lublin Jews Holocaust aims at ordering knowledge about Nazi policy of Jews extermination in Lublin district during the Second World War. It includes information about the creation and development of Lublin and Lublin Region ghettos, work camps, concentration camps (Majdanek) and death camps (Bełżec, Sobibór), as well as deportations (Railways and deportations) and a characteristic of the Nazi repression system (Nazis profiles, guards). This part includes also descriptions of activities tending towards the final elimination of Jewish community from the area of General Government ("Operation Reinhard", "Operation Erntefest") and places connected with the Shoah (Lublin Umschlagplatz, Jewish orphanage).
The portal also honors memory of people who – often risking their lives – helped Jews to escape the Holocaust - Righteous among the Nations. (See also site of the project Lights in the Darkness - Righteous among the Nations).
On pages of Memory Gate Portal – Lublin Jews one can also find educational materials for teachers and students, concerning subjects related to the Lublin Region; Lublin Region multiculturality, Lublin culture and history, as well as profiles of people working on the broad subject-matter of Jewish cultural heritage of Lublin and Lublin Region.