Some Were Neighbors: Choice, Human Behavior & The Holocaust

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 6:00 PM - Tuesday, January 31, 2023

  • Thursday, June 30, 2022, 6:00 PM - Tuesday, January 31, 2023

An exhibition created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum examines some of the central questions about the Holocaust: How was the Holocaust possible? The paramount role of Adolf Hitler and other Nazi Party leaders is indisputable, but why did so many ordinary people throughout Europe support the Nazis’ crimes or remain silent? Why did so few aid those at risk?

“I am glad that this important exhibition will be available for visitors at the Galicia Jewish Museum. The topics it deals with are extremely important to us. It describes processes the understanding of which allows us not only to learn about the situation during the war, but also the behaviors that shape contemporary Polish-Jewish relations. Questions of help, indifference or betrayal are themes that constantly recur in Polish and Polish-Jewish discussions of the past. But the context in which the exhibition is opened also gives it special significance. The war in Ukraine, the cruel crimes committed by Russian soldiers against civilians and, finally, the unprecedented reaction of Polish society, make it clear that the themes touched upon in the exhibition are not only important, but also, unfortunately, still very relevant,” says Jakub Nowakowski, director of the Galicia Jewish Museum.

“Examining history helps us understand how people at another time in another set of circumstances made important choices, and the consequences of those choices.” says Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Some Were Neighbors challenges visitors to reflect on the full range of behaviors that made the Holocaust possible. It is a stark reminder of the power of individuals to make a difference – for better or for worse. Today we are also living in a great historical moment. Every day, the war in Ukraine is a reminder of the warning signs we all saw but failed to appreciate in Vladimir Putin’s various attempts over many years criminalizing historical truth to control the national narrative and mythologizing history to justify a political — and now a brutal military — agenda. Inspired by the resilience and resistance of the Ukrainian people and the wholehearted response of the Polish people, we rededicate ourselves to the principle of preserving, teaching and publicly discussing historical truth and its pivotal role in democracy.” 

About the Some Were Neighbors Exhibition
In conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013, a special exhibition Some Were Neighbors was created and ran through 2017.
After the original exhibit closed in Washington, the Museum created an easy-to-display traveling version for international use. A number of European and international educators indicated the exhibition would be helpful in teaching their students that individuals have agency. By examining the choices that ordinary people made in the past, students can reflect on their roles and responsibilities today. The traveling version of the exhibition has been translated into 10 languages and has so far been presented in 21 countries. In Germany, it has been on display since 2019, and it was presented at the United Nations headquarters on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2020. In Poland, the Some Were Neighbors exhibition opened for the first time in January 2022 at the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews During World War II. To date, the exhibit has also been shown in cooperation with the History Meeting House in Warsaw and Pan Tadeusz Museum in Wrocław.

Onlookers watch as police load Jews onto trucks for deportation. Kerpen, Germany, 1942. Stadtarchiv Kerpen

Galicia Jewish Museum

ul. Dajwór 18

The museum saves from oblivion traces of the Jewish past in what used to be Galicia, and today lies in south-eastern Poland and western Ukraine.

The museum is located in Kraków’s district of Kazimierz, in the heart of the former Jewish district of the city, and it portrays the history and culture of Galician Jews, and commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. There are two permanent presentations of photographs: the exhibition by Chris Schwarz documents the saved remnants of the Jewish heritage of Polish Galicia and presents the places of the Shoah and post-war attempts at retaining the memory of Jewish Heritage in Poland. The museum eagerly hosts temporary exhibitions and organises events that promote knowledge of the Jewish past in Poland among children, young people, and adults.

Tickets: normal PLN 17, concessions PLN 12, senior PLN 14, family PLN 32




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