‘Forgotten Exodus’ to tell heartbreaking stories of Jews expelled from Poland in the 1960s

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‘Forgotten Exodus’ to tell heartbreaking stories of Jews expelled from Poland in the 1960s

Records of the Polish Communist government’s post-Holocaust antisemitic purges to be preserved via video interviews, written narratives and archival materials

Pic: Forgotten Exodus
Pic: Forgotten Exodus

A new initiative dedicated to capturing and disseminating the untold stories of Jews who fled Poland in the late 1960s following a wave of antisemitic purges was officially launched today.

The Forgotten Exodus project is committed to gathering testimonies from victims, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, to document their experiences and ensure their history is not erased.

Its mission is to shed light on the then Polish Communist government’s antisemitic campaign in 1968, a significant yet largely unknown chapter in modern European history.

Commemorating its 55th anniversary in 2023, it marks the deeply dark time when up to 20,000 of the remaining post-Shoah Jewish population of around 30,000 were stripped of their citizenship, forced out of their jobs, and driven out of Poland.

Student protests against censorship by the regime had led to a political crisis, exacerbated by the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbours in 1967; by the following year, Poland’s government declared Jews enemies of the state.

It is estimated that more than half of it’s already utterly decimated Jewish community (the Nazis murdered 90% of Poland’s Jewish population of 3.5 million) were forced into exile.

Henryk Morel (1937–1968), one of the most talented sculptors of Poland’s young avant-garde, lost his life to the March 1968 antisemitic campaign. Pic: Forgotten Exodus

The Forgotten Exodus aims to leverage historical narratives as an instrument to combat hatred, totalitarianism, and antisemitism in modern society.

Daniel Korski, entrepreneur, vice-president of the Jewish Leadership Council, and Dr Daniel Schatz, co-founded The Forgotten Exodus to shed light on a chapter of history often overlooked.

The project will provide a platform for the victims and their families to share firsthand accounts, ensuring that their stories are preserved for future generations.

Sharing his commitment to recording these crucial testimonies, Korski said: “Forgotten Exodus is an essential effort to commemorate the experiences of those who were expelled from their homes, seeking refuge due to antisemitism. By gathering and documenting their stories, we aim to spotlight this overlooked historical period, fostering comprehension and compassion in today’s world.”

Dr. Daniel Schatz, fellow co-director of the project, emphasised the importance of utilising these testimonies as catalysts for societal transformation:

“We aim to do more than just preserve history; our goal is to encourage action against contemporary hatred and antisemitism. By sharing personal narratives, we aspire to galvanise individuals and communities to stand up against anti-democratic trends, promoting tolerance and universal principles as the rule of law, liberal democracy and human rights in any society.”

Forgotten Exodus will engage various forms of media, including video interviews, written narratives, and archival materials, to create a comprehensive historical record.

The gathered testimonies will be meticulously curated and made publicly accessible through an online platform and exhibitions, ensuring that the lessons from the past can be learned and applied in the present.

Forgotten Exodus will partner with academic institutions, museums, and organisations championing human rights and combatting antisemitism. The project encourages victims, their families, and individuals interested in contributing to the project to share their stories. Their participation will be instrumental in preserving history and sparking positive change.

For further information visit: http://forgottenexodus.org

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