Mazel tov to Mariusz Sokołowski, who has won the 2023 POLIN award, granted annually by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw to people “actively working to protect the memory of the history of Polish Jews.”
The awards were announced at a gala event December 5.
Sokołowski, the principal of a primary school in Białystok, has worked on researching and promoting the memory of Jews in Białystok and Wasilków since 2007.
The Museum states:
While still a student, he co-created the Jewish Heritage Trail in Białystok and took part in cleaning the cemeteries in Krynki and Michałów. Then, as a teacher, he engaged students in learning about the local, multicultural past by taking care of the cemetery, collecting witness accounts, creating films, photo exhibitions, murals and urban games.
He is also the author of publications and articles on the methodology of teaching multiculturalism. He has been a member of the Forum for Dialogue network and a participant of the “Ambassadors of the POLIN Museum” program for over 10 years. He cooperated in organizing the commemorations of the liquidation of the ghettos in Wasilków and Białystok.
He is the initiator and co-author of a plaque commemorating children from the Białystok ghetto who were deported to Terezin and then to Auschwitz. In August this year in cooperation with the City of Białystok, organized the ceremony of installing “Stolpersteine” memorial stones dedicated to the murdered members of the family of Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar.
He was awarded 25,000 zloty (€5,770).
Runners-up POLIN awards were presented to:
Ewa Paul, who works to research the history of the Jews of Bełchatów, through conferences, plications, commemorative initiatives, and social media, as well as physically rescuing and restoring matzevot.
The Saga Grybów Association, a group of local activists who have been working for 13 years to save the tangible and intangible heritage of the town and region of Grybów, in southern Poland.
Each received 15,000 zloty.
In addition, POLIN presented this year’s Special Award to Andrzej Folwarczny and the Forum for Dialogue team. Founded in 1998, the Forum for Dialogue is the largest and oldest Polish non-governmental organization involved in Polish-Jewish dialogue.
Sokołowski and activists of the Saga Grybów Association are members of the Forum Network.