Jewish Heritage Europe

From “Atlantis” to …? The past and present of Jewish Krakow in the second decade of the new millennium

Gateway to the Remuh synagogue, Krakow. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

We are pleased to publish this paper by Dr. Monika Murzyn-Kupisz, which she presented in the session “JEWS AND JEWISH DISTRICTS IN EUROPEAN CITIES, 18TH TO 21ST CENTURIES” at the  “XI International Conference on Urban History – Cities & Societies in a Comparative Perspective” organized by the European Association for Urban History at the Charles University in Prague, 29.08-01.09.2012

(Dr. Murzyn did not include pictures with this article, so we have provided some.)

From “Atlantis” to …? The past and present of Jewish Krakow in the second decade of the new millennium

Monika Murzyn-Kupisz

Krakow University of Economics – Krakow – Poland

1. Introduction 

Once an independent town, then a historic part of Krakow, the district of Kazimierz has for centuries been associated with the existence of a Jewish quarter, a thriving Jewish community and its culture. Although in the 19th and the early 20th century Jews slowly moved out of the quarter to other parts of Kazimierz and then other districts of Krakow, until the Second World War, and also to some extent in the first years after it, the area remained the focal point of Jewish religious, cultural and community life[1]. Degraded, dilapidated and forgotten, without its Jewish residents, since 1940s it gradually lost much of its Jewish character[2]. The revival of interest in the Jewish past and heritage of Krakow that was initiated in the 1980s and has intensified since 1990s has been accompanied by a growing commercialization and touristification of the quarter, turning it into a fashionable inner city district not only again associated with Jewish culture but also newly linked with night life. Still, at the turn of the new millennium it seemed that although the Jewishness of Kazimierz and thus the importance of Jewish heritage to Krakow had been recognized and even willingly underlined, its rediscovery may never go beyond historical studies, restoration of monuments and, mainly commercially oriented, cultural activities referring to the Jewish past, initiated and conducted predominantly by non Jews for a non-Jewish audience[3].

In recent years however, alongside further intensification of the entertainment and night life function of the quarter[4], new, interesting processes of revival of the Jewish community and reinterpretation of Jewish heritage may be observed in Krakow, paralleled by interesting public museum initiatives. They show that the evolution of Jewish quarters in Central and Eastern Europe may not only follow the direction of “virtual Jewishness”[5], but rather diverse “Jewish space” may be created understood as social spaces in which both Jews and gentiles meaningfully engage in Jewish culture, not only its past and traditions, but also contemporary expressions, both as its audience and creators[6]. I describe these processes focusing on the new emergence of Jewish communal activities and the greater visibility of not necessarily religious Jewish community in urban space, among others linked with the opening of the new Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, the establishing of new institutions such as Galicia Jewish Museum, the arrival of religious organizations, the evolution of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, the opening of a new important museum institution in the historic building of “Emalia” factory and the new design of memorial spaces.

2. Krakow as the centre of Jewish Studies and publishing on related topics

A positive aspect of the changes in Kazimierz, and more broadly Krakow of the period of transformation, in particular since 2000, is the fact that since 1980s Krakow became a centre for Jewish studies; many research papers and academic publications concerning Jewish history and culture are written and/or published here, as are numerous volumes of memoirs[7], guidebooks[8], albums, and even translations of religious texts, in Polish as well as in other tongues. Krakow is also home to several well-stocked specialist Jewish bookstores, such as: Austeria, Jarden or the bookstore in Galicia Jewish Museum. Lectures, discussions, workshops, museum lessons and courses on various aspects of Jewish cultural heritage are offered both at university level and as part of numerous projects and programmes at the Jewish Community Centre, Jewish Culture Centre, the Galicia Jewish Museum and the branch of the Krakow’s Historical Museum at the Old Synagogue.

An Interfaculty Chair of History and Culture of Jews was founded at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow in 1986 and transformed into the Department of Judaism at the Faculty of History in 2000. It is the only university department in Poland offering bachelor and master studies in the field of Jewish Studies. It also publishes its own periodical – “Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia”. Since the 2012/2013 academic year it will also offer new post-graduate studies on “Jewish Krakow – history, religion, culture, heritage”, while the Department of Jewish Studies will officially become the Institute of Jewish Studies offering an independent university major in Jewish Studies[9]. Originally based outside Kazimierz, in recent years its main seat has been moved to the heart of historic Jewish Krakow at 19 Józefa street. The Department’s address is also home to the Polish Society for Jewish Studies established in 1996, presently counting about 80 members and publishing its own scientific bi-yearly “Studia Judaica”. Its Scientific Association of Students publishes its own periodical “Słowik“. Students of the department are also founders and members of the Student Association for Polish-Israeli dialogue “Gesher” which organizes annual “Days of Israel in Krakow” and publishes a bulletin entitled “Anachnu”. Research on Jewish heritage, history of Jews in Poland and other related issues is also often undertaken by other faculties of the Jagiellonian University as well as other public and private institutions of higher education, such as Krakow University of Pedagogy or Krakow University of Economics. In the recent past decade, apart from scientific and cultural institutions (universities, museums) renowned Krakow publishing houses such as Znak[10] or Wydawnictwo Literackie[11] have often published Polish editions of key popular and scientific books on important issues linked with Jewish Studies, including controversial and difficult topics which initiated and animated the broad public debate on them in Poland[12]. The leading private publishing house on Jewish matters in Poland — ranging from religious commentaries, translations of key texts from Yiddish, through memoirs and scientific publications to commentaries on contemporary Jewish life in Poland, novels and guidebooks as well as publications on the historic multiculturalism of Poland — is Austeria Publishing House based in the heart of Kazimierz[13].

2. Krakow as the centre of cultural activities focused on Jewish culture and heritage

The leading role in initiating urban regeneration of Kazimierz and discovery of Jewish culture in Krakow has been, since early 1990s, played by the Centre for Jewish Culture, an NGO independent from the Jewish community, not directly linked to it, and by the Jewish Culture Festival[14]. Although the first of these still exists and provides an interesting cultural offering [15], today it is not as visible because its place was to some extent “taken over” by other, very dynamic institutions such as the private Galicia Jewish Museum, which offers a broad cultural programme and intensively promotes itself, especially to tourists, and the new Jewish Community Centre.

In contrast to the Centre for Jewish Culture, the Jewish Culture Festival has for over two decades maintained its key role in the presentation of Jewish culture in Krakow. Since 1988, as the largest event of its type in Europe, the Jewish Culture Festival provides contact with Jewish culture each year in a very intensive, condensed form[16]. Now one of the best known, flagship cultural events of Krakow, it aims to focus not only on presenting the past achievements of Jewish culture or traditions but contemporary aspects of Jewish and Israeli culture and diversity of Jewish cultural creations. It draws a diverse audience, both local and international, Jewish and non-Jewish. For some years its programme has also broadened to include many other Jewish culture actors in Kazimierz as programme creators such as the Galicia Jewish Museum, the JCC or the Centre for Jewish Culture, or different Krakow museums (the Ethnographic Museum, Public Engineering Museum, National Museum, Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, etc.). Thus, although the Festival Association is at the core of festival activities, it willingly opens the festival to offers of other institutions. Moreover, since 2008 the festival is present in the cultural life of Krakow all year round as in that year the NGO that runs the festival opened the Cheder Café – its permanent café and cultural venue focused especially on contemporary cultural presentations of Jewish and Israeli culture in the former Jewish prayer house of Chewr Ner Tamid existing since 1890 at Józefa 36.

In Kazimierz. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Another institution worth mentioning is the Galicia Jewish Museum – an interesting example of a foreign initiative in Krakow, founded in April 2004 by the late Chris Schwarz – a British photographer fascinated with the Jewish heritage of Galicia. The museum features the permanent exhibition “Traces of Memory” consisting of photos made by him at different Jewish sites in Galicia, with scholarly comments by Jonathan Webber.[17] The GJM also has ambitions to function as a meeting place and a cultural centre offering a broad range of cultural activities ranging from a book shop to workshops, concerts and lectures. Its activities include diverse temporary exhibitions on both Jewish life in Galicia prior to 1939 and the Holocaust, commemorating Polish “Righteous among Nations” and facilitating school exchanges between Israelis and Poles.

As follows, the Jewish past and present is now the subject of many private and public cultural initiatives including museum exhibits, both temporary and permanent. The oldest public museum focused on Jewish heritage – a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow has been  located in theOld Synagogue since the late 1950s. Although due to spatial and organisational constraints its permanent exhibition is rather narrow and focused on presenting traditional, orthodox Jewish culture in its 19th century form — which has been often criticized,  and discussions have been long under way on the possibility of enlarging the edifice and creating a new museum with a broader scope of activities (e.g. Museum of Galician or Ashkenazi Jews) — it remains the main public exhibition on the history of Krakow Jews prior to 1939. Importantly, in the past 20 years the museum organised many interesting temporary exhibitions on different aspects of Jewish life in Krakow, especially in the 19th and the early 20th century as well as has been much engaged in educational workshops on Jewish heritage[18]. In 2010 the adaptation of the part of the former Emalia Factory on Lipowa Street (the so-called Schindler’s Factory) was completed, and this may be considered a milestone in terms of museum presentation of Holocaust in Krakow. It houses the new branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow focused on research and presentation of Krakow’s history during the World War II. Its main exhibition, presenting the fate of Krakow and its residents, with a special focus on the Holocaust and suffering of the Jewish community during the war, in a rather innovative and thought provoking way, has received much praise and attracted a lot of interest. Its creators seemed to have consciously chosen to present a complex narrative in which the aim is to place the Holocaust of Krakow Jews in the broader context of Krakow and Poland in World War II, including the situation and attitudes of different ethnic groups, and moral choices and dilemmas faced by the city’s residents at that time.  In the first year that the museum opened to the general public (6 months of 2010) it attracted as many as 111,000 visitors, quickly becoming one of the two most often visited branches of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow. In 2011 it welcomed 200,000 visitors[19].

Visitors in the Schindler’s Factory museum. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Interest in Jewish issues is also well reflected in the high attendance at temporary exhibitions concerning Jews and Jewish culture prepared by institutions that do not focus on Jewish culture but undertake Jewish heritage-related themes from time to time. For example, in 2007 the exhibition: “A World before a Catastrophe. Krakow’s Jews between the Wars” at the International Cultural Centre was, within the few summer months, visited by 17,350 people. Such institutions may also approach Jewish heritage in a non-standard way, showing its less known aspects or putting forward difficult issues. An example of this may be two exhibitions shown in the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow in the summer of 2011, which opened during the Festival of Jewish Culture: a music exhibition “Jews on Vinyl in MEK” and the photographic exhibition “Macevot of everyday use”. Another good example of the new way of presenting Krakow’s heritage is the “Krakow Women Trail. Guide to Krakow of the Emancipates” created by the Przestrzeń Kobiet Foundation. For example the first part of the trail and its accompanying guidebook published in 2009 introduced several important historical figures of Jewish women in Krakow such as S. Schenirer, the founder of still existing Bejs Jakow orthodox school movement for Jewish girls, P. Wasserberg, a social activist and a doctor, Z. Ginczanka, a poet  or Z. Ameisenowa, a renowned specialist in archival studies[20]. Thus, people seeking to learn about the complexity of the Jewish past in Krakow, as well as about past and present Jewish culture and heritage today, have few problems finding information on topics of interest to them. Moreover the newly emergent exhibitions often provide a new, at times provocative narrative on the Jewish history in Krakow and Galicia.

Visitors waiting to enter the Old Synagogue, where a temporary exhibit is mounted. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

3. Greater visibility and diversification of Jewish communal life

The growing interest in Kazimierz and Jewish heritage observed in Krakow since 1980s initially was not accompanied by any visible signs of revival of communal Jewish life. The Jewish congregation to some extent reasserted its presence in the quarter, claiming back from the state all synagogues and other historic communal buildings and sites, but it did not show any signs of revival; it consisted mainly of aged members and rather happily passed the issues of promotion and interpretation of Jewish heritage to other actors. In the new millennium, though, things started to change significantly. First, in 2004 Czulent[21] – an independent association of young people of Jewish descent – spontaneously formed and then registered. After many years, for the first time the younger generation of persons with Jewish roots became much more active, within an institution that is formally independent of the organized Jewish Community, though the Community provides organizational support and premises[22]. Members of Czulent attempt to learn about Jewish culture and its contemporary countenance, to thus learn about their own roots and discover and deepen their own Jewish identity. The association organizes discussions and lectures as well as a Jewish Film Discussion Club and a Jewish Literary Salon, and workshops on Jewish tradition, history and culture, such as the Galicia project about small towns. Czulent has also founded its own library of Jewish subject matter (the Rabbi Moses Isserles Remu’h Library with the name referring to the most famous 16th century Krakow rabbi). There is also a chance for a religious revival of the Jewish community as after years of having no spiritual leader, the Krakow community now has its own rabbi[23], and since the summer of 2007 the Isaac synagogue has been home to Chabad-Lubavitch, an orthodox religious group[24]. Chabad-Lubavitch has also opened a small shop with kosher food and a restaurant. Its rabbi, E. Gurary, supervises the preparation of custom-ordered kosher meals, for example for the Krakow Holiday Inn. It is now both easier to buy kosher food in Krakow and find kosher restaurant services in Krakow, offered in four locations. Moreover, some specific food producers actually advertise themselves as kosher[25].

Last but not least, the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow (JCC) which officially opened in April 2008 in a purpose-built, new building on Miodowa Street nearby the historic reformed Tempel synagogue, seems to have become the most important new institution providing social, educational and community-oriented services to the Jewish community of Krakow[26]. Although the centre’s activities attract non-Jews as well, its focus is fostering the development of the Jewish community, providing space to meet, discover Jewishness and learn about Jewish life. As follows, its aim is to strengthen and develop contemporary

Celebrating the 5th anniversary of the JCC, Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

community life in Krakow, providing a venue for meetings, organized and spontaneous activities and encounters between Jews and learning about diverse aspects of present day Jewish culture. It organizes Sabbath dinners with kosher food on Friday evenings, runs a mini-nursery for children up to 3 years old and a Sunday school for children up to 15 years old. It offers a broad educational and cultural programme including language classes (Hebrew, Yiddish, but also English, Russian, Spanish, etc.), artistic workshops, exhibitions, sports activities (it opened a sports centre on its premises), lectures and workshops on diverse issues e.g. Judaism and its variations, music, customs, historic and contemporary literature, film screenings (e.g. of films by young Israeli film directors), meetings with a rabbi and special guests, practical courses (e.g. guitar, computers), provides space for a seniors’ club and a women’s group (Rosh Chodesh) as well as community events (e.g. Jewish weddings). It organizes celebrations of Jewish religious holidays at the same time making them more visible in the urban space (e.g. organizing  a Purim parade on the streets of Kazimierz followed by lectures on Purim and a Purim party), genealogical workshops, parties and brunches – which are an important meeting opportunity especially for young people. The JCC also engages in inter-faith dialogue (including being a home to the Krakow Association of Christians and Jews) as well as in environmental, animal protection and minority rights’ actions or discussion on other socially sensitive issues (e.g. recently a debate on ACTA). Although it mainly wants to be the focal point for the young Jewish community in Krakow it also serves now as an important point for Jewish visitors to the city as well as tries to be more visible as the representation of revitalized Jewish community of Krakow to its non-Jewish residents. Two of its undertakings illustrate this very well. The first is (based on the idea of nights introducing broad audiences to cultural institutions such as a Museum Night) the “Synagogue Night” organized once a year since 2011. During the “7@nite Night of the Synagogues” the doors of all existing seven Krakow synagogues in Kazimierz open with a rich, youth-oriented cultural programme of concerts and other artistic events making their space alive in a “contemporary” fashion. The second is increasingly active engagement in the creation of the Jewish Culture Festival programme in cooperation with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and ZOOM – the Polish-Jewish Youth Organization. As follows in 2012 many of the festival events were organized or took place at the JCC. The JCC has about 300 affiliated members while the number of participants of its events per year has been estimated at 20,000 persons[27]. Apart from the existing religious community and Chabad-Lubavitch, since March 2011 a new local progressive Jewish community has also started to emerge in Krakow affiliated at the Galicia Jewish Museum with rabbi Tanya Segal as the first female rabbi in Poland. It has attracted over 50 persons, mainly young people who recently discovered their Jewish identity[28].

4. Public spaces and new visual signs of Jewishness

The third important expression of non-commercial interest in the heritage of Jewish culture in Krakow and in the discovery of the city’s Jewish past is finally the lively debate  that has been underway for several years within local authorities and expert circles and in the press and other media concerning the presentation and spatial management of sites and areas of memory connected with the Holocaust, such as the Plac Bohaterów Getta (Heroes of the Ghetto Square), the already mentioned Oscar Schindler’s Factory and the area of the former concentration camp in Płaszów. An example of a public initiative that significantly changed the meaning and outlook of an important site in the history of Jews in Krakow is the remodeling of the Heroes of the Ghetto Square – Krakow’s Umschlagplatz. Formerly known as Plac Zgody (Conciliation Square), after the Second World War it served mainly as a transport hub and a bus station. In 2005 city authorities decided to redevelop it and recall its tragic history. The square has been transformed into a memorial to the victims of the Krakow ghetto according to the design of K. Lewicki and P. Łatak. Instead of erecting a typical memorial the architects decided to transform the entire square into memorial space with regular size and oversized chairs made of bronze reminding visitors of the abandoned furniture Jewish residents had to leave behind. In 2011 the square received Urban Quality Award for outstanding public spaces. Plans provide for the creation of a Trail commemorating the annihilation of Krakow’s Jews in the area of the former ghetto in Podgórze. A discussion is underway on the spatial plan selected by competition and on the creation of tourist trails around the site of the former camp in Płaszów. On the one hand, discussion on the preservation and presentation of this “heritage of atrocity” site was initiated very late; and it will take even more time for the discussion to translate into tangible actions. On the other hand, however, the fact that such discussion is underway is a very good sign. Thus, after a period of oblivion and obliteration from memory of the tragic experiences and annihilation of the Jewish citizens of the city – by taking proper care of the sites of that memory and by creating a new museum exhibition, this heritage will also become part of the official historical memory of the city.

Ghetto memorial. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

One may also say that since 1989 there has been an evolution of the visual signs of “Jewishness” in Kazimierz and Krakow[29]. In 1990s and early years of the new millennium commercial signage dominated – indicating to perspective customers that a given place (e.g. a café) is “Jewish” in style and provides an opportunity to experience “Jewish heritage” in Krakow. Hence the oversized menorah and lions of the Ariel café, Klezmer Hois (Klezmer’s House) restaurant Hebrew lettering or the nostalgic, “Jewish” shop fronts of “Once upon the time in Kazimierz” café on Szeroka street. Meanwhile during the undertaken renovation and new construction projects original Jewish signage or traces of Jewish life (e.g. scars in the doorframes left after the mezuzahs) disappeared. An example may be the often photographed original sign on Paulińska street in Kazimierz which disappeared after “Secesja” hotel was built.

In recent years there is an opposite trend of reinforcing existing traces or creating “artificial ones” such as creating “artificial” mezuzah scars on doorframes or rewriting the existing signage and offering its explanation to the public, such actions becoming in themselves a sort of commemorative projects. A prime example of this is the sign on the historic building of the Talmudic society at 42 Józefa street. In 2009 a copy of the fading original sign of the society was made on a metal board and placed above the original on the building’s façade. In addition an information plague in English, Hebrew and Polish explaining it was also affixed to it. The urban space of Krakow is also the site of artistic happenings, which in a less literal sense serve as a reminder that here once lived a community that was an important, numerous and visible element of the city’s landscape, and that Kazimierz is not only a heritage park, a mock-up for tourists or an entertainment enclave, but a home. Some examples are the happening staged in March 2007 by the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts and the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kazimierz which involved the sketching of “absent” residents in chalk on the walls of old Kazimierz tenement houses, or the installation by Regina Premsl in Nuremberg House at Krakowska Street in June 2007. By hanging pillows and duvets out of windows of the building, the artist wanted to remind us that even if today many tenement houses in Kazimierz serve non-residential functions, even if the former residents are no longer there, here was once someone’s home, irrespective of whether Polish or Jewish, pre-war or post-war, and the district was once the site of daily chores and activities, such us the airing of bedclothes.

5. Closing remarks

The different modes of  the new presence of Jewish culture and heritage in Krakow include numerous commemoration and documentation efforts, activities of cultural institutions, and the presence of diverse signs of “Jewishness” in urban space; last but not least in recent years the revival and diversification of Jewish community as such and the greater visibility of its presence in the city may be observed[30]. As follows, if a few years ago the production and consumption of Jewish culture in Kazimierz were often referred to as creation of “virtual Jewishness” mainly by non-Jews for a non-Jewish audience, in recent years the participation of the real, redefined Jewish community in discovering and defining the Jewish character of the quarter has been increasingly visible. Thanks to it, creating some continuity with pre-war traditions but at the same time not making them the main point of reference, Kazimierz may anew become a quarter with a unique, ethnic character, not only a quarter of the Jewish past but also of Jewish present and presence. Moreover, its spaces and Jewish heritage may not only provide links with the past, but they may also create opportunities for renegotiating and redefining both Polish and Jewish identity, as well as serve as spaces of encounters and brokering between the two nations[31]. Such a myriad of modes of revival, rediscovery and redefinition of Jewishness of Krakow surely necessitates further, much deeper analysis and reflection both on the very phenomena observed in Krakow and on how these phenomena fit into broader tendencies observed in Poland with respect to Jewish heritage and Polish-Jewish relations[32].

Jewish Culture Festival. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

[1] Apart from articles in scientific periodicals, numerous publications on the history of Jews in Krakow include, among others, books focused on general issues (e.g. M. Bałaban, Historia Żydów w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu 1304-1868, vols. 1-2, Krakow, Towarzystwo Nadzieja, 1931, 1936; H. Halkowski, “Cracow – city and mother of Israel”, in Krakow – dialogue of traditions, Krakow, Znak 1991, s. 31-51; H. Halkowski, Żydowski Kraków: legendy i ludzie, Krakow, Austeria, 2009; Jews in Krakow, M. Galas, A. Polonsky (eds.),  “Polin. Studies in Polish Jewry”, vol. 23, Oxford – Portland, Oregon, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilisation, 2011); devoted to Middle Ages (H. Zaremska, Żydzi w średniowiecznej Polsce: gmina krakowska, Warsaw, PAN, 2011), the 19th and early 20th century (M. Rympel, “Słowo o Żydach krakowskich w okresie międzywojennym (1918-1939)” in Kopiec wspomnień, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1964, p. 556-587; Z. Wordliczek, “Żydowskie szkolnictwo podstawowe, średnie i zawodowe w okresie II Rzeczypospolitej ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem Krakowa”, Krzysztofory, no. 19, 1992, p. 120-134; A. Żbikowski, Żydzi krakowscy i ich gmina w latach 1869-1919, Warsaw, ŻIH, DIG, 1994; S. Piech, W cieniu kościołów i synagog. Życie religijne międzywojennego Krakowa 1918-1939, Krakow, Secesja, 1999; B. Zbroja, Miasto umarłych: architektura publiczna Żydowskiej Gminy Wyznaniowej w Krakowie w latach 1868-1939, Krakow, WAM, 2005; A world before a catastrophe, J. M. Małecki (ed.), Krakow, ICC, 2007; A. Jakimyszyn, Żydzi krakowscy w dobie Rzeczypospolitej Krakowskiej: status prawny, przeobrażenia gminy, system edukacyjny, Krakow, Austeria, 2008;  Ł. T. Sroka, Żydzi w Krakowie. Studium o elicie miasta (1850–1918), Krakow, Akademia Pedagogiczna, 2008), World War II and the Holocaust (J. Stendig, “Dewastacja cmentarzy, bożnic i zabytków żydowskich Krakowa podczas okupacji hitlerowskiej” in W trzecią rocznicę zagłady getta w Krakowie, Krakow, Książki Wojewódzkiej Żydowskiej Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie, 1946; A. Bieberstein, Zagłada Żydów w Krakowie, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1985; T. Pankiewicz, Apteka w getcie krakowskim, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1995; A. Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie 11 sierpnia 1945, Warsaw, ŻIH, 2000; A. Jodłowiec-Dziedzic, Zagłada Żydów krakowskich 1939-1945, Krakow, Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa, 2004; K. Zimmerer, Zamordowany świat: losy Żydów w Krakowie 1939-1945, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2004) and, although least numerous, the post-war period (E. Gawron, Społeczność  żydowska w Krakowie w latach 1945-1995, PhD thesis, Krakow, Jagiellonian Uniwersity, 2005, forthcoming as a book).

[2] The director of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow J. Makuch describing his personal experiences of discovering Jewish Krakow in late 1980s often  refers to them as “discovering of Atlantis”, which inspired the title of this paper. Cf. J. Makuch, “The Jewish Culture Festival: between two worlds”, in Reclaiming memory. Urban regeneration in the historic Jewish quarters of Central European cities, Krakow, ICC, 2009, p. 43-50.

[3] R. E. Gruber, Virtually Jewish: reinventing Jewish culture in Europe, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2002; M. Murzyn, Kazimierz. The Central European experience of urban regeneration, Krakow, ICC, 2006.

[4] M. Murzyn-Kupisz, “Cultural quarters as a means of enhancing the creative capacity of Polish cities? Some recent evidence from Cracow”, Quaestiones Geographicae, no 4, 2012, p. 63-76.

[5] R. E. Gruber, Virtually Jewish…, op. cit.

[6] D. Pinto, “The Jewish space in Europe”, in Turning the kaleidoscope: perspectives on European Jewry, S. Lustig, I. Leveson (eds.), Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2006, p. 179-186. S. Saxonberg, M. Waligórska, “Klezmer in Kraków: kitsch or catharsis for Poles?”, Ethnomusicology, Fall 2006, vol. 50, no. 3, p. 433-451;  M. Murzyn-Kupisz, “Reclaiming memory or mass consumption? Dilemmas in rediscovering the Jewish heritage of Krakow’s Kazimierz”, in Reclaiming memory. Urban regeneration in the historic Jewish quarters in Central Europe, M. Murzyn-Kupisz, J. Purchla (eds.), Krakow, ICC, p. 363-396; E. Lehrer, “Can there be a conciliatory heritage?”, International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 16, no. 4-5, 2010, p. 269-288. On a broader context of the phenomenon see e.g. R. E. Gruber, Beyond virtually Jewish: new authenticities and real imaginary spaces in Europe, Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 99, no. 4, 2009, p. 487-504 and R. E. Gruber, ‘Non-Jewish, non kosher yet also recommended’: beyond virtually Jewish in postmillennium Central Europe, in Philosemitism in history, J. Karp, A. Sutcliffe (eds.), Cambridge University Press, New York, 2011, p. 314-336.

[7] E.g. R. Sharf, Poland, what have I to do with Thee… Essays without prejudice,Krakow, Krakow, Judaica Foundation, 1996; M. Akavia, My own vineyard: a Jewish family in Krakow between the wars, Edgware and Portland, Vallentine Mitchell, 2006; A.D. Pordes, I. Grin, Ich Miasto. Wspomnienia Izraelczyków, przedwojennych mieszkańców Krakowa, Warsaw, Prószyński i S-ka, 2004.

[8] E.g. A. Legutko-Ołownia, Kraków’s Kazimierz. Town of partings and returns, Krakow, Bezdroża, 2004.

[10] E.g. R. Ligocka, Dziewczynka w czerwonym płaszczyku, Krakow, Znak, 2001; G. S. Paulsson, Utajone Miasto. Żydzi po aryjskiej stronie Warszawy 1940-1945, Krakow, Znak 2008;  J. Y. Potel, Koniec niewinności. Polska wobec swojej żydowskiej przeszłości, Krakow, Znak 2011 – Polish language version of the book – J.Y. Potel, La fin de l’innocence: La Pologne face à son passé juif, Paris, Editions Autrement, 2009.

[11] E.g. K. Zimmerer, Zamordowany świat…, op. cit.; M. Akavia, Moje powroty, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2005; J. Leociak, Ratowanie. Opowieści Polaków i Żydów, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie 2010.

[12] J.T. Gross, Strach. Antysemityzm w Polsce tuż po wojnie. Historia moralnej zapaści (Fear), Krakow, Znak, 2008; J. T. Gross, I. Grudzińska-Gross, Złote żniwa. Rzecz o tym, co się działo na obrzeżach zagłady Żydów (Golden harvest), Krakow, Znak 2011.

[13] To see the broad range of publishing activities of Austeria see:

[14] M. Murzyn, Kazimierz…, op. cit.


[16] R. E. Gruber, “The Krakow Jewish Culture Festival”, in Focusing on Jewish popular culture in Poland, and its afterlife, M. Steinlauf, A. Polonsky (eds.), Polin, vol. 16, London, Littman Library of Jewish Civilisation, 2003, p. 357-367; M. Waligórska, “Kleznetworks, the transnational and the local dimension of Jewish culture festivals”, in Jewish Spaces, P. Ernst, G. Lamprecht (eds.), Vien, Bosen, Innsbruck, StudienVerlag, 2010, p. 136-156;

[17]J. Webber, Rediscovering traces of memory: the Jewish heritage of Polish Galicia, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2009.

[18] For example its latest temporary exhibition “Maccabees of Sports” presented between June 2012 and early 2013 is focused on the Jewish sports movement in Krakow between 1902 and 1939, when as many as 18 different Jewish sports clubs existed in the city.

[19] Author’s calculations based on data obtained from the museum.

[20] Krakowski Szlak Kobiet. Przewodniczka po Krakowie emancypantek, E. Furgał (ed.), Krakow, Fundacja Przestrzeń Kobiet, 2009.

[21] Its name “Czulent” (“Tschulent”) refers to the traditional dish of Ashkenazi Jews.

[22] M. Kursa, R. Romanowski, “Czulent wegetariański, interview with Daniela Malec”, in KRK. Książka o Krakowie, Krakow, Znak, 2007, p. 104;

[23] Rabbi Boaz Pash, who arrived in Krakow in 2006, replaced Abraham Flaks, who served as Rabbi of Krakow from 2005 to 2006. Cf. R. Elkins, “Hope in the Shadow of Auschwitz”, The Independent, 7 November 2005,


[25] A good example may be the production of Kosher ice-cream at the heart of Kazimierz at the corner of Józefa and Bożego Ciała streets.

[26] I. Kasnett, “Road to rebirth”, The Jerusalem Post, 31.03.2011.

[28]; N.B. A Krakow branch of the Towarzystwo Społeczno-Kulturalne Żydów (Socio-Cultural Association of Jews) founded in 1950 and functioning continuously since communist times is also based in Krakow (at Estery 6 street) but its role in the recent years was marginal.

[29] A. Dutkowska,  “Visual semiotics of “Jewishness” in Kazimierz”, in Cultural representations of Jewishness at the turn of the 21st century, M. Waligórska, S. Wagenhofer (eds.), Florence, EUI Working Papers, HEC 2010/01, p. 27-41.

[30] Also see E. Gawron, ”To, co ocalone… żydowski Krakow – dawniej i obecnie”, Alma Mater, no. 109, 2006, p. 24-28.

[31] M. Waligórska, “A goy fiddler on the roof. How the non-Jewish participants of Klezmer revival in Krakow negotiate their Polish identity in a confrontation with Jewishness”, Polish Sociological Review, no. 4, 2005, p. 367-382; E. Lehrer, “Can there be…”, op. cit.; M. Duch-Dyngosz, “Nie zmarnujmy tej szansy”, Znak, nr 6, 2012, s. 6-10.

[32] J.Y. Potel, La fin de l’innocence…, op. cit.; J. B. Michlic, ““Remembering to remember”, “remembering to benefit”, “remembering to forget”: the variety of memories of Jews and the Holocaust in post-communist Poland”, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, article no. 113, 2012,; see also Framing Jewish culture: boundaries, representations, and exhibitions of ethnic difference, S. J. Bronner (ed.), Littman Library Jewish Cultural Studies, vol. 4 (forthcoming)..

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