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Col. Berek Joselewicz, commander in Polish Army in 18th century

Poland to present Jewish history in exhibit at EU

New exhibit aims to show that 'Jews had their significant share in creating the Polish state, its economy, architecture, culture and art,' according to Polish politician who initiated it Associated Press Published: 03.18.09, 17:36 / Israel Jewish Scene (external - login to view)

A new exhibition by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw brings together photos and documents depicting the rich history of 1,000 years of Jewish life in Poland.

The exhibition, previewed Monday in Warsaw, goes on display April 1 at the European Parliament in Brussels and will run nearly a week.

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With old paintings and photographs, the show recalls how Jews found refuge in Poland during the Middle Ages after being expelled from many parts of Europe. It also stresses the mark the community made on the larger, mainly Roman Catholic Polish community.

Judaic Science Institute(L) and Great Synagogue in Warsaw, pre-1939 (Photo: AP)

That knowledge is little known outside Poland, said European Parliament lawmaker Ryszard Czarnecki, who came up with the idea for the exhibition.

"People in the West know — and very rightly so — about the Holocaust, but they don't know what was before the Holocaust, the hundreds of years of a very rich history," Czarnecki said. "The Jews had their significant share in creating the Polish state, its economy, architecture, culture and art."

Fighting stereotypes about Poland

The institute drew from its archives to present religious Jews, synagogues and Yiddish-language newspapers and posters.

Orthodox Jews are seen in a park, pre-1939 (Photo: AP)

A portrait gallery recalls prominent Polish Jews, including filmmaker Roman Polanski, the late chess champion Akiba Rubinstein and the pianist Arthur Rubinstein.
The exhibit is one of several efforts by Polish leaders to fight stereotypes that the nation remains anti-Semitic, more than six decades after most of the nation's roughly 3.5 million Jews were either murdered in the Nazi Holocaust or emigrated.