"Lublin. 43 thousand" Project
Idea of the project
Since the 25th anniversary of the creation of NN Theatre in 2015, we are in the process of developing the “Lublin. 43 thousand” project, dedicated to the Jewish community that had lived here. The Jewish District and its inhabitants have perished; gone are the streets, houses and synagogues. In 1939, before the outbreak of World War II a Jewish minority of forty-three thousand lived in the city. Back then no one had any idea of the upcoming Holocaust and genocide, and that the whole community would be annihilated.
This is why it is necessary to realise that behind the number – forty-three thousand – there are forty-three thousand faces, forty-three thousand given and family names, that they were men, women and children; that each of them was born on a specific day, in a specific year; that they each lived in a specific house with its own address.
Those that enacted the Holocaust wished for all memory of their victims to fade. It was not enough to sentence the Jewish population to death; they were meant to be pushed out of our collective memory, forgotten. All evidence that this community lived here was meant to disappear forever. Every document witnessing the genocide was to be destroyed.
Against this idea of absolute erasure of all signs that thousands of people existed, this dystopia emerging from the heart of evil, we put forth an equally absolute utopia.
We titled this project “Lublin. 43 thousand” as a symbolic reference to the number of Jews who lived in Lublin in 1939. As part of the project we would like to preserve the memory of each person who lived in the Jewish District. We would like to discover their names and reconstruct their histories to the best of our ability. For this reason, we have assigned each person a folder to contain all the information pertaining to them that we were able to collect. We have placed forty-three thousand of these folders throughout the Grodzka Gate.
The reasoning behind the project is epitomised by Ida Glickstein, a Holocaust survivor who wrote in her memoirs: “I list names of the murdered, because maybe it is the only gravestone they will get, because there is no one left of their families who would mourn their premature deaths.”
And so we search through various archives, read through memoirs and try to find all remaining traces of those who lived here.
The “Lublin. 43 thousand” project begins the process of searching for evidence documenting life in Lublin’s Jewish District, and its destruction. It will create a space to discover and showcase all, even the seemingly irrelevant, mentions of the Dictrict’s inhabitants. Until now these were often overlooked; they were devoid of an overarching narrative. They were only a barely discernible trace of someone’s existence. Often, it is the only trace that remained.
The rationale behind this undertaking can be surmised in the words of Czesław Miłosz:
Slowly, boring a tunnel, a guardian mole makes his way,
With a small red lamp fastened to his forehead.
He touches buried bodies, counts them, pushes on,
He distinguishes human ashes by their luminous vapor,
The ashes of each man by a different part of the spectrum.
[Czesław Miłosz "A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto"]
To reconstruct the names of the 43 thousand we are digging archives here and abroad, listening and reading personal testimonies, extracting data from private collections and examining every possible piece of information in order to retrieve names and stories of people.
The materials gathered during the research are transcribed and imported into the advanced database consisting of 4 main core modules:
All these modules are interconnected giving the possibility to organize detailed informations about each documented individual in context of place and time.
The sources we already managed to process are following:
Lists of residents of properties in Lublin / Listy imienne mieszkańców posesji (according to street addresses) (1940)
35/22/0 Akta miasta Lublina » Series:: 8.7 Wydział Oświaty, Mieszkaniowy (Kwaterunkowy) i Statystyki » Units:: 328-373 (State Archives in Lublin - Files of the city of Lublin - Municipal Board in Lublin - Department of Education, Housing and Statistics)
Lists of contributors to the Jewish community / Listy składek gminy żydowskiej (1928 and 1936)
Collection: 35/403/0 Urząd Wojewódzki Lubelski » Series:: 2 Wydział Społeczno-Polityczny » File/unit:: 800 (State Archives in Lublin - Province of Lublin Office - Social and Political Department)
8663 entries (4407+4256)
Quantitative lists of the metal collected by Jewish families in Lublin / Komisja Zbierania Metali-wykazy ilościowe ze zbiórki metali złożonych przez rodziny żydowskie w Lublinie wg ulic-sprawozdania, nazwiska ofiarodawców (according to street addresses) - 1940
Collection: 35/891/0 Rada Żydowska w Lublinie » Series:: 2 Sprawy pracy obowiązkowej i świadczeń na rzecz okupanta » File/unit:: 54 (State Archives in Lublin - Judenrat/Jewish Council - Affairs of forced labor and services provided to the occupant)
List of people buried in the New Jewish cemetery in Lublin / Lista osób pochowanych na Nowym Cmentarzu Żydowskim w latach (1939-1942)
Zespół: 35/112/0 Gmina Wyznaniowa Żydowska w Lublinie » Seria: bezpośrednio w zespole » Jednostka: 8 (State Archives in Lublin - The Jewish Community of Lublin)
List of Jews in possession of the J-Ausweis cards / Lista osób posiadających J-Ausweis (1942)
Collection: 35/891/0 Rada Żydowska w Lublinie » Series:: 6 Ruch ludności, sprawy porządkowe » File/unit:: 164 (State Archives in Lublin - Judenrat/Jewish Council - Migration and administration)
Documents and lists of resettled Jews from the City of Lublin to 10 counties of the District of Lublin / Judenaussiedlung (1941)
Collection: 35/498/0 Urząd Okręgu Lubelskiego » Units 894 and 895 - Judenaussiedlung, Sonderaktion Lublin (Lublin District Office)
List of Jews residing in individual houses in Lublin / Wykaz Żydów zamieszkałych w poszczególnych domach w Lublinie (June 1940)
Collection: 35/891/0 Rada Żydowska w Lublinie » Series:: 6 Ruch ludności, sprawy porządkowe » File/unit:: 151 (State Archives in Lublin - Judenrat/Jewish Council - Migration and administration)
Lists of residents of properties - created for victualling purpose in 1940 / Listy mieszkańców nieruchomości sporządzane dla celów aprowizacyjnych (Most of the lists were deemed redundant and destroyed.)
Collection: 35/22/0 Akta miasta Lublina » Series:: 8.7 Wydział Oświaty, Mieszkaniowy (Kwaterunkowy) i Statystyki » File/unit:: 374 (State Archives in Lublin - Files of the city of Lublin - Department of Education, Housing and Statistics)
Lists of death cases / Wykaz wypadków śmierci (September 1941 - January 1942) - created for the Civil Registry Office.
Collection: 35/22/0 Akta miasta Lublina » Series:: 8.6 Wydział Administracyjny » Units: 289 and 291 (State Archives in Lublin - Files of the city of Lublin - Department of Administration)
Lublin schools’ archives / Archiwa lubelskich szkół - contains report cards, application forms, examination protocols etc.
Collection: 35/532/0 Prywatne Żeńskie Gimnazjum i Liceum Władysława Kunickiego w Lublinie
Collection: 35/533/0 Prywatne Męskie Gimnazjum i Liceum "Szkoła Lubelska" im. Stefana Batorego w Lublinie
Collection: 35/534/0 Prywatne Męskie Gimnazjum i Liceum im. A. i J. Vetterów w Lublinie
Collection: 35/536/0 Prywatne Żeńskie Gimnazjum i Liceum Michaliny Sobolewskiej w Lublinie
Collection: 35/537/0 Prywatne Gimnazjum i Liceum Żeńskie Heleny Czarnieckiej w Lublinie
Collection: 35/541/5 Państwowe Pedagogium im. E. Estkowskiego w Lublinie
Collection: 35/543/2 Państwowe Koedukacyjne Gimnazjum Kupieckie w Lublinie
Collection: 35/543/1 Państwowa Szkoła Koedukacyjna Przemysłowo-Handlowa w Lublinie
Collection: 35/924/0 Prywatne Żeńskie Gimnazjum i Liceum Ogólnokształcące Wacławy Arciszowej w Lublinie
Collection: 35/702/0 Kuratorium Okręgu Szkolnego Lubelskiego w Lublinie
Sprawozdanie dyrekcji gimnazjum [im. Stanisława Staszica] za rok szkolny 1931/32, Lublin 1932, s. 64-69
Total: 692 entries