The mural alongside the Czechówka river
As part of the project, murals have been created in selected locations of the former ghetto. Their content is based on archival documents: photographs, original memories of historical witnesses, and literary works. The artistic language used to communicate the message of the murals is inspired by street art.
Mural created along the 100–metre embankment of the Czechówka river
The mural created along the embankment of the Czechówka river is located next to the Tarasy Zamkowe shopping centre, on the same side as the Unii Lubelskiej Street. It has been designed in the form of a documentary based on archival photographs.
The choice of the work's location was not accidental and is of a symbolic nature. Pre-war Jewish Lublin was centred around Podzamcze – the Jewish quarter situated in the vicinity of the Old Town. It encircled the Castle Hill, covering an area which has witnessed the development of Jewish settlements since the 16th century and whose most significant topographical element is the river. In the words of Tomasz Pietrasiewicz: “Here, on the banks of the Czechówka river, once flowing under the Jewish quarter, the memories of the demolished district are rinsed out and resurface on the walls of its embankment. The black-and-white mural is documentary in a form which testifies to the past”.
The art form
The artistic language used to communicate the message of the commemoration is inspired by street art thanks to which the form of the mural is accessible and intelligible to everyone.
The mural is a collage of the photographs taken by Stefan Kiełsznia in the 1930s (most probably 1938) of the streets of Lublin: Nowa, Lubartowska and Kowalska. You can see Polish and Yiddish signboards hanging on the walls of old tenement house shops and shopkeepers peeking out from their doorways. The street is filled with strolling people – among them Henio Żytomirski with his father and a woman who is known from having randomly appeared on two pictures taken by Henryk Poddębski. These are the people who would be taking a walk in the pre-war district of Podzamcze.
A perceptive observer might also notice the pre-war Yiddish commercial of a Jewish shop which was extracted from 4 Cyrulicza Street together with a fragment of the wall it used to adorn and moved to the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre to become an element of its interior exhibition.
Additionally, the mural contains Jacob Glatstein's poem: “Lublin, My Holy City” (translated from Yiddish by Prof. Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska), as well as the 1928 city plan of Lublin with the Jewish quarter marked on it.
Lublin, my holy Jewish city, city of great Jewish poverty and joyous Jewish holidays. Your Jewish street smelled of whole-wheat bread, sour pickles, incense, herring, and Jewish faith. The Hassidic synagogue, the Maharam synagogue and the Maharshal synagogue, the workers’ little houses and little synagogues all gave an air of holiness to the inter-Sabbath periods of everyday commerce, so to speak. The flour-covered bearers who stood and waited for a tip, and meanwhile slipped into the Hassidic synagogue and enjoyed the congregation’s chant – the light, silky, satiny voices of the young men.
Lublin, my holy city, city of awakened class struggle. Your tailor-boys and cobbler-boys, your apprentices and servants, rose up to introduce justice, equality, and brotherhood for all “comrades and citizens.” A holy flame purified their eyes when they went joyfully to the tribunal, singing revolutionary songs along the way.
Lublin, my holy city of young boys and girls thirsting for education; of the first lilac aroma of early Hebrew and the deliciousness of proud Yiddish; of the modern Hebrew schools, the Hazamir choral society, and the professional unions; of our joint yearning for Odessa and Warsaw, where we made a fuss over Bialik, Frishman, Mendele, Peretz, Sholem Aleichem, and Reisen; my city of enraptured painters, poets, and violinists.
Lublin, my holy city, with the old-old and new-old cemeteries, with the mausoleums of Hassidic rabbis, graves that one might not approach except in times of great trouble, for their ground fairly burned with holiness.
Holy city of mine, you asked this honor for yourself: that when they would burn and roast a million-and-a-half Jews they should do it in the shadow of your nearly thousand-year history of Jewishness. This holy cemetery you wanted for yourself, so that all your holy tombs should together become one holy tomb for a great tsaddik – the Jewish people. I take off my shoes when I come to the Majdanek woods. The ground is Holy of Holies, for the Jewish people lies resting there in the shadow of hundreds of pious generations.
Who will raise you up again and rebuild you, my holy city, now that you’ve been razed to your foundations and are one frightful gravestone? They are hammering shingles and laying roofs, they are repairing and tidying up the old, disgusting world. But my holy city, the city of my world, will never be rebuilt.
Translation from the Yiddish by: Barnett Zumoff
“Recalling. The Holocaust Poems of Jacob Glatstein”
The work is fully discernible from the terrace of Tarasy Zamkowe, which gives a view of the present-day topography of the area stretching around the Castle Hill, which until the end of WWII was a part of the Podzamcze district – densely covered with Jewish buildings.
Work on the mural
The mural was designed by Jacek Rudzki. The assignment was supervised by Cezary Hunkiewicz and Piotr Grykałowski and the project was realised by Escritor Media in co-operation with the following artists:
- Magdalena Szilke,
- Anna Świtalska–Jończyk,
- Anna Kłys,
- Krzysztof Wojciechowski
- Paweł Grykałowski.
The official presentation of the mural – December 14, 2016
On the 14th of Decemeber 2016 during a meeting summing up the realisation of the project in 2016, an official presentation of the mural was held. The work was presented in front of invited guests and media representatives (newspapers: Dziennik Wschodni, Gazeta w Lublinie, Kurier lubelski, radio stations: Radio Lublin, Radio Free, Radio Centrum, Radio eR, Radio Złote Przeboje, TOK FM, RMF, together with the TVP3 Lublin and the Polish News Agency, PAP), as well as the City Hall (Marketing Department of the City Hall).
The presentation of the mural was officially acknowledged as part of the celebrations taking place in 2017 to mark 700 years since the founding of Lublin. A press conference was held after the presentation of the mural, during which the idea behind the commemoration and accompanying activities were discussed.