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New museum of Jewish history opens in Warsaw

April 19, 2013|By Deborah Vankin
  • The reconstructed ceiling of a wooden-roofed synagogue is a highlight of one of the principal galleries in Warsaw's new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The reconstructed ceiling of a wooden-roofed synagogue is a highlight… (Museum of the History of…)

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews opens Friday in Warsaw, partly funded by the Polish government. It’s located in the area that was once the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, in what was Nazi-occupied Europe.

The museum aims not just to provide education about the history of Polish Jews, but to dispel any lingering anti-Semitism seven decades after the Holocaust. It also celebrates the rich traditions and culture of Jews from Warsaw, the capital of Poland, once one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.

"I want this museum to be a museum of life, not a museum of death," Andrzej Cudak, acting head of the museum, told Reuters.

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The museum’s opening marks the date, 70 years ago to the day, of a Jewish uprising against German troops that took place in the ghetto. 

The museum’s curators will at first put up temporary exhibits; starting next year, it will showcase permanent artifacts chronicling Polish Jews’ 1,000-year history.

There will be eight galleries at the museum – one of them will be devoted to covering events from the Holocaust.

However: “This is not going to be another Holocaust-type museum," one project director, Robert Supel, told Reuters. “Primarily we are talking about life, we are talking about culture, we are talking about the exchange of influence of nations, we are talking about all aspects of Jewish life in Poland since the early medieval period."

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Twitter.com/@debvankin

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