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Arrested Mourning

Memory of the Nazi Camps in Poland, 1944–1950

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Zofia Woycicka

«Analyzing the earliest debates over the memory of Nazi camps, the author makes an important contribution to the study of their origin, reducing the existing asymmetry in our knowledge on the relevant phenomena in Western and Eastern Europe. This is all the more important as the Poles and Polish Jews, whose involvement in the disputes over memory she describes, were the most important group of survivors and eyewitnesses of the camps and so the genuine group of memory.» Prof. Dariusz Stola (Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Science)
«The vast number and variety of sources used in this work create a fascinating picture of a multifaceted, rich, vivid, and at times heated debate conducted in Poland in the late 1940s. A great merit of Wóycicka is to preserve this discourse from oblivion and to bring it back into the public sphere.» Barbara Engelking (Polish Center for Holocaust Research)
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Chapter 6: A Christian Monument to Jewish Martyrdom? An Unrealised Project from 1947 to Commemorate the Site of the Former Death Camp at Treblinka

← 232 | 233 → Chapter 6

A Christian Monument to Jewish Martyrdom? An Unrealised Project from 1947 to Commemorate the Site of the Former Death Camp at Treblinka

In October 1947, the War Graves Department at the Ministry of Reconstruction in cooperation with the Committee for the Commemoration of Treblinka Victims (KUOT) announced a competition to commemorate the death camp at Treblinka II and the labour camp at Treblinka I. Two months later, the jury, which included representatives of the Department for Museums and Monuments of Polish Martyrdom, the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites, the Ministry of Reconstruction, and the CKŻP, awarded first prize to two hitherto unknown architects, Władysław Niemiec (aka Niemirski) and Alfons Zielonko; their winning design was never implemented. Seventeen years had to elapse before a memorial—by Franciszek Duszeńko, Adam Haupt, and Franciszek Strynkiewicz—was built on the site of the former death camp.1 In the pages to follow I shall discuss the genesis and iconography of Niemiec and Zielonko’s project. This story exemplifies and supplements the themes touched upon in previous chapters concerning the rivalry between “Polish” memory and “Jewish” memory, and the search for an appropriate means of commemorating the victims of Nazi crimes.

The “Polish Klondike”2: Genesis of the Project

Unlike Majdanek and Auschwitz, where work on creating museums and monuments of martyrdom commenced soon after liberation, Treblinka, just like other death camps, was completely abandoned after the war; the only people to visit the camp were looters, mainly from among the local population.3 One of the reasons for this was that very few people—approximately 70 in total—had survived ← 233 | 234 → Treblinka. These people were not sufficiently numerous or influential to be able to enforce their demands concerning the commemoration of the site. The fact that Treblinka II was a place of execution exclusively for Jews and Roma is not without significance either. Indeed, this was the view taken by members of the Former Treblinka Prisoners’ Group, who, at a meeting in the summer of 1945, complained that the site of the former extermination camp had not been secured and was being continually desecrated. According to the minutes of the meeting, “it was suggested that Treblinka was being neglected by the official institutions because it was specifically a Jewish camp”.4

The commemoration of Treblinka was not a priority for the Polish authorities. Likewise, the Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners (PZbWP) showed little interest in the matter. The only institution interested in safeguarding and commemorating the site of the camp was the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, but even for CKŻP members the matter was not of the utmost urgency. The committee was focused above all on the creation of the Warsaw Ghetto Monument. The latter was much better suited as a symbol of Jewish heroism, for Treblinka—despite the courageous prisoner revolt of August 1943—was primarily seen as a place of crimes and suffering. Jewish organisations abroad also found it easier to obtain funds for Rapaport’s project than for the commemoration of death camps.5 Greater determination was shown in the creation of the Jewish exhibition at Auschwitz, which, for reasons previously explained, soon eclipsed other sites of wartime martyrdom. Besides, the task was greatly facilitated by the fact that a museum infrastructure already existed at Auschwitz.

Polish Jews undertook their first initiative to commemorate Treblinka a few months after the end of the war. At a session of the KRN in July 1945, a group of Jewish parliamentary deputies, including Michał Szuldenfrei and Adolf Berman, put forward a proposal to “erect a monument and establish a memorial museum at the place where Polish Jews were exterminated in Treblinka”.6 However, as Szuldenfrei would later report to the CKŻP Presidium, the response was rather frosty.7 Although the proposal was passed on to the relevant parliamentary committee, no further action was taken.

← 234 | 235 → In the autumn of 1945, a special commission appointed by the GKBZNwP visited Treblinka with the aim of gathering materials for the trial of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg.8 Aside from GKBZNwP representatives, the commission included members of the CŻKH as well as four survivors of the camp. The delegation was horrified by what it found at Treblinka. In a memo addressed to the CKŻP, the delegates wrote:

[...] A throng of local people is digging up the sandy soil in order to uncover the treasures allegedly hidden within. As a result of these excavations, the earth, previously levelled and sown with lupine, has revealed its contents: a mass of unburned and decomposing human corpses and their belongings. That is why the ground is covered with human bones, human remains, and various items such as kitchen utensils, spoons, forks, rotting shoes, combs, liturgical items (candleholders), Jewish prayer shawls, etc. etc.9

The site was also plundered by soldiers from a Red Army unit stationed nearby, who detonated explosives in the mass graves in search of valuables. The authors of the memo urged the Jewish Committee to take action to secure the site of the former camp. In their view, the scene amounted to:

[…] the deliberate desecration of corpses and remains of people tortured by their Nazi executioners and the malicious destruction of evidence of Nazi crimes and atrocities. Such desecration dishonours and offends the feelings of Polish and world Jewry and brings the Polish state into disrepute. We must immediately end the desecration of this mass grave and place of execution of millions of defenceless and innocent Jewish victims—a place that is sacred to every Jew in Poland and around the world. Given these circumstances, we call upon the Central Committee of Jews in Poland to intervene urgently with the state authorities in order to secure and maintain the site of the Treblinka death camp where millions of Jews died a martyr’s death.

The CKŻP alerted the Ministry of Public Administration, which, in turn, ordered the Provincial Governor of Warsaw to halt the desecration of mass graves and secure the evidence of crimes.10 As a result, the Provincial Office summoned the District Governor of Sokołów to take care of the Treblinka site.11 The effect of the intervention was minimal, however. At the beginning of 1946, the head of the ← 235 | 236 → Provincial Office’s Social and Political Department sent a letter to the Ministry of Public Administration in which he denied the CKŻP’s version of events. If the site was being dug up, he explained, it was because special units of the Polish Army were searching for victims’ identity cards and other documents on the orders of the Ministry of Defence.12 Although several dozen people were arrested in the same year for plundering mass graves at the site, they were subsequently released; the public prosecutor did not deem their behaviour to be criminal.13 In the summer of 1947, Jerzy Rawicz published an article in Robotnik in which he described his impressions from a visit to the Siedlce region.

The villages around Treblinka have been beautifully restored. Instead of ramshackle dwellings there are houses with tiled roofs. Where did those people get the money to do this? There were no special loans for the Treblinka district. [...] We walked across a field that was scattered with human remains: hands, feet, brains, skulls, shinbones. Human hair, not grass, sticks out of the soil. On the way back we met a group of people carrying sacks. They also had makeshift spades in the form of sticks with hooks attached. Still today, two years after the end of the war, these jackals and hyenas are digging up human remains in search of gold and other treasures. In this Polish Klondike there are even associations being created for the exploitation of given sites. They sublease the land. They feed on death. They desecrate corpses.14

The issue of safeguarding and commemorating Treblinka returned to the agenda of the CKŻP’s meetings in the spring of 1947. The creation of a museum pavilion on the site, following the example of Majdanek, was one of the ideas discussed.15 However, the committee lacked funds. Moreover, a project of this kind would require the approval of the Ministry of Art and Culture and other state institutions. It was decided, therefore, to intervene once again with the central authorities. On this occasion, the committee approached Prime Minister Cyrankiewicz directly.16 Pressure from the CKŻP combined with constant press reports about the desecration of mass graves finally prompted the authorities to act.17 As a result of a site inspection conducted in June 1947 by representatives of the central administration, ← 236 | 237 → the Warsaw Provincial Office, and the CŻKH, it was decided to appoint a special committee charged with raising funds and securing the site of the camp.18 The first session of KUOT was held in the Polish Parliament building at the beginning of July 1947. Lucjusz Dura, the Provincial Governor of Warsaw, was appointed chairman. KUOT included CKŻP Presidium member Salo Fiszgrund, the head of the War Graves Department at the Ministry of Reconstruction, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Defence, and the National Council of Warsaw. The committee was to receive a state subsidy. In addition, an appeal for private donations was envisaged.

As the project to commemorate Treblinka was being developed, disputes arose within KUOT. The main conflict was between the CKŻP representatives and other members of the committee. At least some of the latter were unwilling to emphasise the Jewish identity of the camp’s victims. During a meeting of the CKŻP Presidium held at the end of July 1947, Fiszgrund recounted his polemic against Governor Dura and the other committee members at the previous KUOT session. “In their view,” said Fiszgrund, “Treblinka is not an international issue. I explained to them that 95 per cent of the victims of Treblinka were Jews.”19 In October, Fiszgrund complained that KUOT was “changing the way in which the victims are commemorated and the site is protected”.20 At the previous committee session, Fiszgrund continued, “I drew attention to the fact that the matter was being addressed incorrectly. What we want to avoid is the falsification of history. The KUOT members refuse to state the exact (or approximate) number of victims. And most important of all they are turning Treblinka into a place where people of various nationalities perished, yet it is a Jewish cemetery par excellence.” Consequently, Fiszgrund suggested that the CKŻP should send a memo to the committee “clarifying the actual state of affairs”. The suggestion was supported by Adolf Berman, who stressed that “Treblinka is the biggest Jewish cemetery in the world” and that it should be commemorated as such.

One disagreement within KUOT concerned the languages to be used for the inscriptions on the mausoleum. It was decided at one of the committee meetings ← 237 | 238 → that the monument would have plaques affixed to it with inscriptions in ten languages: Polish, Russian, Yiddish, French, German, Czech, Hungarian, Greek, Dutch, and Hebrew.21 The CKŻP Presidium saw this as yet another attempt to give the site a more international character and thus to downplay the Jewish identity of the camp’s victims. Adolf Berman proposed that all the inscriptions in Treblinka should be in three languages only: Yiddish, Polish, and Hebrew.22

In October 1947, KUOT announced a closed competition to commemorate the death camp and labour camp in Treblinka. A conflict arose over who would be invited to participate. Members of the CŻKP wanted the competition to have a higher status. Adolf Berman believed that “the greatest Jewish sculptors from around the world” should enter.23 The participation of famous Jewish artists would not only highlight the importance of Treblinka but would also emphasise the Jewish character of the place. In the end, Fiszgrund managed to force through Natan Rapaport’s candidacy. Aside from Rapaport, seven other Polish sculptors and architects were invited to participate.24 They were not well-known figures, although a few of them, such as Antoni Łyżwański and Franciszek Krzywda-Polkowski, had achieved a degree of recognition before the war.25 The competition jury included a delegate from the Ministry of Reconstruction; the head of the Department for Museums and Monuments of Polish Martyrdom and secretary of the ROPWiM, Ludwik Rajewski; and Salo Fiszgrund from the CKŻP. Entries were submitted by only four teams of designers. Apart from the authors of the winning design, none of the authors of the designs are known. In all likelihood Natan Rapaport was not among them, since at that time he was completing work on the Warsaw Ghetto Monument.

The competition was adjudicated at the end of November 1947.26 First prize was awarded to two novice architects, who had originally not even figured among the proposed candidates: Alfons Zielonko (1907-1999), later the vice-rector of ← 238 | 239 → the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, who at that time was an assistant professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture with no major projects to his name; and Władysław Niemiec (aka Niemirski, 1914-2001), Zielonko’s junior by several years, who did not graduate from the Department of Architecture at Warsaw Polytechnic until 1948. In later years Niemiec was primarily involved in landscape architecture. Among other projects, he designed the botanical garden in Powsin (1963) and collaborated on the Soviet Military Cemetery in Warsaw (1950).27

The two artists described their design as follows:

The site of the cemetery will be surrounded by a stone wall. The main entrance, situated on the north side, will give easy access to the railway and to the so-called “black road”, which leads to Treblinka II.28 To the right of the main entrance will be the caretaker’s lodge.

Curved paths will lead from the main entrance to the extant foundations of the barracks, which will be specially protected.

Passing a series of monumental pylons, the broad main path will lead into the cemetery, to be shaped like a Star of Zion [sic].

The perimeter of the star will be marked with birches and the area beyond it planted with pines. The area within the star will have low-growing or trailing plants that are appropriate to sandy soil, such as heather, thyme, sedum, mullein, or juniper.

The main path will ascend steps to a square, on which will stand a sacrificial altar, a pool of water, and a 25-metre tall obelisk representing the Tablets of Moses, which will bear the inscription: Thou Shalt Not Kill. The plinth of the obelisk will be decorated with bas-reliefs. Beneath the obelisk, a passage will lead to a building housing a model of the camp reconstructed on the basis of a drawing made by J. Wiernik, a participant in the Treblinka revolt. The interior walls of the building will be covered with plaques describing the martyrdom of the Jews in ten languages. The floor tiles will be arranged in a pattern resembling the striped uniform worn by prisoners. Beyond the obelisk, deep within the memorial, will be a circular mausoleum covered by a cupola; on its external walls, slabs in the form of the Tablets of Moses will be repeated in a regular pattern.

← 239 | 240 → Bas reliefs will adorn the main entrance to the mausoleum and there will be a huge plaque describing the victims’ ordeal in ten languages. The entrance itself will be a gate in the form of a seven-branched candelabrum. The interior of the mausoleum will be dimly lit in order to create a powerful impression.

Placed in the apses around the mausoleum will be urns containing the ashes of murdered children. Skulls arranged in the shape of a pyramid will be placed within a circular recess at the centre of the mausoleum, under a glass cover. Between the sacrificial altar and the mausoleum, the square will be planted on both sides with pyramid-shaped junipers. Just before the steps on the main route, paths will branch out. Placed along these paths will be walled burial mounds containing ashes collected from the site. Clumps of junipers, artistically arranged and serving a protective function, will be planted between the mounds.29

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← 240 | 241 → Design by Alfons Zielonko and Władysław Niemiec for the monument on the site of the former extermination camp Treblinka II, 1947-1948 (courtesy of AAN).

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← 241 | 242 → Design by Alfons Zielonko and Władysław Niemiec for the monument on the site of the former extermination camp Treblinka II, 1947-1948 (courtesy of AAN).

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← 242 | 243 → Design by Alfons Zielonko and Władysław Niemiec for the monument on the site of the former extermination camp Treblinka II, 1947-1948 (courtesy of AAN).

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← 243 | 244 → Design by Alfons Zielonko and Władysław Niemiec for the monument on the site of the former extermination camp Treblinka II, 1947-1948 (courtesy of AAN).

Iconography of the Memorial

The plan in Treblinka was to create not a single free-standing monument but a memorial that would entirely cover the site of the former camp, which the architects treated as a huge cemetery. The layout was to comprise several structures: an avenue of pylons, a pool of water, a sacrificial altar, 25-metre tall Tablets of Moses, a building housing a model of the camp, mounds containing ashes of the victims, and, finally, a huge mausoleum. The idea of creating a landscaped memorial to commemorate the site of a former concentration camp is not unique in Poland, although Niemiec and Zielonko’s design was by far the earliest. The other landscaped memorials are the Monument and Mausoleum of Martyrdom (designed by Franciszek Duszeńko, Adam Haupt, and Franciszek Strynkiewicz), unveiled at Treblinka in 1964, and the Bełżec Memorial (designed by Andrzej Sołyga, ← 244 | 245 → Zdzisław Pidek, and Marcin Roszczyk), completed in the spring of 2004.30 Of a similar character, too, is Oskar Hansen, Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, and Julian Pałka’s unrealised design for a “Memorial Road” through Auschwitz-Birkenau, which won an award in 1958 during the second stage of an international competition to design a memorial for the camp.31

There is a fundamental difference, however, between Niemiec and Zielonko’s design and those later projects: the landscaped memorials mentioned above were born of a quest to find new ways of communicating, through the medium of art, the experience of the Second World War, and in particular the experience of the Holocaust, which, by its very nature, destroyed all forms of expression previously adopted in European culture. By contrast, Niemiec and Zielonko’s design appears remarkably conventional. It consists in the bringing together of various traditional forms of sepulchral art. Thus, we find a mausoleum, urns containing victims’ ashes, and a pyramid of skulls whose gruesomeness recalls the chapels of the Baroque period. No less unimaginative are such elements as the avenue of pylons, the huge obelisk resembling the Tablets of Moses, and the burial mounds and pyramid-shaped junipers. Likewise, the slabs affixed to the external walls of the mausoleum, whose shape—according to the authors of the design—was meant to resemble the Tablets of Moses, actually look like matzevot (upright tombstones). In order to emphasise that Treblinka II was a place of Jewish martyrdom, the architects used the most obvious symbols of Jewish culture that would be understandable even to non-Jews: the Star of David, the menorah, and the Tablets of Moses.

It is characteristic that in the first years after the war very traditional methods of commemoration were used to honour the victims of concentration camps and death camps. Although many people were already aware of the unique nature of the crimes committed in the years 1939-1945, they were unable to find a suitable form of expression for them. One employee of the Ministry of Art and Culture captured the dilemma thus:

← 245 | 246 → The crimes perpetrated by the Nazis during the last war are such an unprecedented phenomenon in world history that work on commemorating the Polish martyrdom associated with them is not based on any artistic or ideological tradition—the designs have to be developed from scratch.32

This problem was not restricted to Poland. As Insa Eschebach notes:

Compared to the buildings and monuments of the 1990s, which arose from a coming to terms with National Socialism, one clearly sees how strongly the monuments and inscriptions from the immediate post-war years […] refer to existing conventions and traditional images of the past. Unlike the case of contemporary monumental art […] after 1945 there was less focus on understanding the Nazi genocide as an historical first, as a collapse of civilisation (Zivilisationsbruch).33

Eschebach’s observations primarily concern Germany, but they may be equally applied to other European countries. Indeed, projects that emerged after the war completely independently of one another, in various parts of the continent, often displayed strong similarities. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, the cross was commonly used to commemorate victims. Obelisks were also very popular.34 In Chapter Five (Cemeteries or “Battlefields”?), I described a design of 1950 for a provisional monument to commemorate Birkenau; its form alluded to a design drawn up in captivity by the Auschwitz inmate and subsequent PMOB employee Jerzy Brandhuber. After the war, Brandhuber wanted to erect within Birkenau a huge, square chimney topped by an eternal flame.35 Placed around the chimney would be a series of stones symbolising prisoners standing for roll-call. The design of 1950, however, envisaged a monument of far more modest proportions: resting on a platform, surrounded by trees and flanked by candles, it was to resemble a traditional obelisk rather than a crematorium chimney. Strikingly similar to this was a monument raised in April 1945—barely a few days after liberation—by former inmates of Buchenwald. Standing on a multi-level platform, it took the form of an obelisk nailed together with wood and bearing the letters KLB (Konzentrationslager Buchenwald) as well as the number 51,000, which denoted the number of victims of the camp.36Another common form of commemorating ← 246 | 247 → the victims of Nazi concentration camps was a monument in the shape of an urn. This was the form given to the first provisional monument raised in 1947 in one of the blocks in Auschwitz I.37 A similar monument is to be found in the cemetery in Willmersdorf near Berlin, where the ashes of the victims of Sachsenhausen and Wawelsberg were buried.38

Although the purpose of these conventional monuments was symbolically to restore to the victims the dignity denied to them by the Nazis, the monuments usually said nothing about the vast number of victims or the manner of their death. Władysław Niemiec and Alfons Zielonko were clearly aware of this problem. They, too, used traditional forms of sepulchral art, but they tried to emphasise both the identity of the victims and the genocidal nature of the crimes by bringing together diverse forms of remembrance and opting for monumental dimensions.

The layout of the various elements is not accidental. The Treblinka memorial was to take the form of a road leading from the spot where the entrance gates once stood to the gas chambers and mass graves. This would enable the visitor to retrace the route taken by the victims, thus symbolically repeating their path of suffering. In actual fact, the condemned were not led through the main gates; the transports would arrive at a railway platform located to the south of the camp. The victims were then led directly from the platform to the gas chambers, so they never saw the administrative areas of the camp. Nevertheless, a visitor to Treblinka could travel in the same direction as the victims before finally reaching the last “circle of hell”, namely, the death camp proper, with its gas chambers, fire pits, and mass graves. Visitors unfamiliar with the history of the place could enhance their knowledge by studying a model of the camp and reading a description of the “martyrdom of the Jews”, which would be found in a building behind the obelisk—in other words, halfway between the entrance to the cemetery and the mausoleum.

The architects’ intention was that visitors to Treblinka would climb the steps to a square on which stood a monumental obelisk in the form of the Tablets of Moses. In order to enter the passageway underneath the obelisk leading to a building housing a model of the camp, the visitor would have to walk past a pool of water and a sacrificial altar. Next, having seen the model of the camp, the visitor would proceed to the mausoleum. These four elements—an ascending path, a pool of water resembling a baptistery or mikveh, a sacrificial altar, and a mausoleum—lend the place a transcendental aspect: it becomes a sanctuary holding holy relics and the visitor becomes a pilgrim. The path does not lead downwards into the earth, for this would symbolise a descent into the abyss—into the depths of crimes and suffering. The latter approach was adopted in many later designs ← 247 | 248 → for the commemoration of concentration and death camp victims, such as the Jewish Memorial at Dachau (designed by Hermann Guttmann) erected in 1964-67 and the Bełżec Memorial of 2004.39 A similar idea surfaced in several of the entries for the international competition to design a memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau (1958-1967).40 In Niemiec and Zielonko’s design, however, the path leads upwards towards a mausoleum situated on a platform. In this way, Treblinka is not transformed into a cursed place, “a heap forever” (Hebrew: tel olam, Joshua 8:28), but instead becomes a place sanctified by the sacrifice of blood. The sacrificial altar placed before the obelisk seems to emphasise the monument’s message: that the people murdered at Treblinka did not die in vain and that their sacrifice of life will, in God’s plan, serve to reform and redeem humanity and, at the individual level, to reform those visiting the place as pilgrims. However, in order to experience this contact with the divine, the visitor to Treblinka first has to undergo cleansing, symbolised here by a pool of water.41

Although in this memorial design the victims of the camp are portrayed as martyrs, it would be hard to speak of their glorification. One element that could be interpreted as an attempt to show the murdered as heroes is the avenue of pylons by the entrance to the cemetery. Aside from this, however, the memorial emphasises—for instance, through the invocation “Thou Shalt Not Kill!” inscribed on the Tablets of Moses and the human ashes and remains displayed in the mausoleum—not so much the heroism of the victims as their innocence and the cruelty of their tormentors. The design contains no reference at all to the prisoner revolt of 2 August 1943. One can only assume that it would have been mentioned in the potted history of Treblinka which was to be displayed in the building containing a model of the camp. Nor do we know what was to be depicted in the bas reliefs covering the plinth of the obelisk. What is certain, however, is that the heroism of the victims was never meant to be a key element of the memorial overall. On the contrary, given that Niemiec and Zielonko intended to place urns containing “the ashes of murdered children” in the mausoleum apses, they clearly wanted to highlight the innocence of the victims. If, in the eyes of the authors, the Treblinka victim possessed a redemptive power, this was his innocence, not his heroism. This interpretation is confirmed by Zielonko’s own words. At a meeting with representatives of the CKŻP, he said that his aim “was for the mausoleum and the ← 248 | 249 → architectural topography of the site to bear witness to the Nazis’ crimes and to instil in visitors a feeling of solidarity with the victims”.42

The message of Niemiec and Zielonko’s design differs from that of many subsequent Polish “monuments of struggle and martyrdom”, including the Birkenau monument of 1967, at the base of which a plaque proclaimed that the “heroes of Auschwitz” had been awarded the Order of the Cross of Grunwald (1st Class).43 Niemiec and Zielonko’s design also speaks differently about the Holocaust than the Warsaw Ghetto Monument unveiled in April 1948 and the modest monument erected in Birkenau in that same month44; the latter bore the inscription: “In memory of the millions of Jews, martyrs, and fighters exterminated in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp as a result of Nazi genocide in the years 1940-1945”. A Jewish periodical of the time explained that both monuments were meant to honour the victims of genocide as well as the heroes of the resistance movement in the ghettos and camps.45 The CKŻP intended to put up a plaque with a similar inscription at the Treblinka site.46 That some former Treblinka inmates and participants of the revolt wanted to glorify their own actions is shown by a letter from Jankiel Wiernik published in the summer of 1947 in Głosu Bundu [Voice of the Bund], in which the author suggested that 2 August should be declared an international holiday.47

Niemiec and Zielonko’s design clearly defined Treblinka as a place where Jews were exterminated. It is worth considering, however, to what extent the design conformed to the Jewish burial tradition and to interpretations of the Shoah that emerged from Judaism, and to what extent it reflected a Polish or Christian point of view. Since the memorial’s message is unambiguously religious, I shall restrict my analysis to theological interpretations. It is a difficult issue to address because within Jewish theology there exist many different ways of explaining the Holocaust, some of which are diametrically opposed to one another.48

We do not know the ethnic or religious background of the design’s authors, but there is much to suggest that they were rooted in the Christian tradition and that the memorial was primarily addressed to Poles. What is surprising is that in ← 249 | 250 → a sketch of the design, the sixth commandment (“Thou Shalt not Kill”) inscribed on the stone obelisk appears only in Polish.49 The manner in which the architects intended to treat the ashes of the victims runs contrary to Jewish tradition. The exhumation of corpses is forbidden within Judaism, so the idea of gathering the victims’ remains and putting them on public view could have raised serious concerns among Jews.50 It would seem, however, that a more pertinent question is to what extent the architects’ interpretation of Treblinka was in keeping with the way the Shoah is explained within Judaism.

Stanisław Krajewski distinguishes four main interpretations of the Holocaust in Jewish theology:

–   “for our sins” interpretations, the majority in a traditionalist spirit, which assimilate the Shoah into Jewish history as yet another gigantic pogrom;

–   instrumental interpretations (“for your sins”), which see the Holocaust as a punishment for improper Jewish ideologies or as the basis for a new phase in the history of Israel;

–   “for their sins” interpretations, based on the traditional idea of a non-interventionist God who gives humanity free will and for whom Jews are the victims of evil perpetrated by others;

–   extreme interpretations (“there is no sin”), which speak of the “death of God” and the end of Judaism.51

Niemiec and Zielonko’s design does not fit any of the above interpretations. The Holocaust is not presented as a punishment for sins; on the contrary, the innocence of the victims is emphasised. Nor is the Holocaust a result of the evil within Man or of a non-interventionist God who grants free will. Although the architects condemn the perpetrators, the Holocaust is itself treated as a victim that is to contribute to the redemption of humanity. In this way, Niemiec and Zielonko give a positive meaning to the suffering and death of the Treblinka victims.

The Hebrew Bible does not recognise the sacrifice of human life. In Judaism, human sacrifice was replaced with animal sacrifice (Leviticus 1:3; Deuteronomy 12:17-18, 15:19-20), and the latter has not been practised since the destruction of the Second Temple.52 Although the genocide of the Jews during the Second ← 250 | 251 → World War is commonly referred to as “the Holocaust”, which derives from the Greek holokaútoma, meaning “burnt offering”, the term is rejected as inadequate by many philosophers and theologians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.53 The word holokaútoma was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in relation to the sacrifice of Isaac. In the theology of Judaism, the sacrifice of Isaac is described by the term aquedah, which means “shackling” or “binding”. This term indicates that the sacrifice was not in fact made: Abraham does not sacrifice his son Isaac; on God’s command, he sacrifices a ram instead (Genesis 22). That is why in Jewish theology the Binding of Isaac is interpreted primarily as a test of faith, and not as a sacrifice.54

In Judaism, however, there is the concept of martyrdom for the faith (kiddush hashem, literally, “the sanctification of God’s name”). Although, during the Second World War, Jews were persecuted as Jews and were usually not given the choice of whether to keep their faith and traditions or to renounce them and were condemned to death regardless, the concept of martyrdom for the faith is sometimes used in relation to the victims of the Holocaust; it also occurs in early texts on the subject of Treblinka.55 One of Rachela Auerbach’s articles for Nasze Słowo includes a “parable” about the conduct of Warsaw Jews who had been sent to Treblinka. The author cites the words of a prayer that one of the women was to have uttered in the face of death:

Reboyne shel oylem, Lord of the Universe (she cried), look at our suffering and look at the suffering of our small and innocent children. Turn us away from sin and purge us ← 251 | 252 → of impurity in the hour of our death. And as we perish al kiddush hashem, for the sanctification of your name, so accept us and let us sit by your throne in your presence.56

It does not seem likely, however, that the authors of the memorial design were referring to the concept of kiddush hashem. Indeed, by invoking murdered children to emphasise the innocence of the victims, they at once emphasised the nonintentionality of their death. The interpretation of the Holocaust offered—perhaps not altogether consciously—by Niemiec and Zielonko seems closer to Christian thought, although this, too, is far from being theologically accurate. Their memorial design draws a parallel between the victims of Treblinka and Christ’s sacrifice. In accordance with Christian dogma, the death of Christ, the “Lamb of God”, served to redeem humanity of its sins; by analogy, the death of the Treblinka victims would either reform humanity or lead to its salvation. Although, as Manfred Lurker writes, “the redemptive death of Christ on the cross is the only blood sacrifice known to Christianity”57, the sacrifice of the “Son of Man” nevertheless lies at the heart of the Christian faith and is repeated in the sacrament of the Eucharist; thus it would seem closer to Christian rather than to Jewish religious ideas. The Catholic writer Zofia Kossak-Szczucka also saw the experience of the camps as a sacrifice whose purpose was to redeem humanity. In her fictionalised camp memoir, she wrote: “A concentration camp transformed into a sacrificial altar and tossed in with the Passion of the Son of God would surely be enough to save the world.”58

For the sake of comparison, it is worth mentioning here the monument erected in the summer of 1947 at the Jewish exhibition in Auschwitz, which was mentioned in the previous chapter. In a niche draped with black fabric, flanked on both sides by double columns, stood a nine-branched candelabrum (hanukiah) atop a black sarcophagus-like platform; above it, suspended from the wall, was a dove flying upwards to the heavens. The Hebrew inscription above the niche read: yizkor (remember).59 This modest monument, designed by Jewish artists, did not attempt to lend meaning to Birkenau; it merely expressed grief for those who had perished and the joy of those who had survived. The hanukiah, which recalls the Maccabean victory over the Seleucids and the cleansing of the Temple (1 Maccabees 4:36-61), and the soaring dove, which signifies hope and reconciliation with God (Genesis 8:10-11), may be interpreted as symbols of the ultimate victory of good over evil and of the salvation of Israel. These two elements can also be interpreted in another way: the hanukiah as determining the national identity ← 252 | 253 → of the victims, and the dove as a symbol of the “souls of the martyrs”.60 However, the central message of the monument was the exhortation to remember (yizkor).61 Equally restrained in its attempt to make sense of the Holocaust was the monument in the Jewish barrack at Majdanek, which appeared a year later and which is described in Chapter Five.

As Stanisław Krajewski notes, “the Second World War caused many Jews to illustrate the Jewish tragedy using the cross and the crucifix whilst emphasising the Jewish characteristics of the crucified victim”.62 The best-known example of this is the art of Chagall; similar depictions are found in literature.63 Krajewski interprets this as an attempt to “reach the conscience of Christians, Europeans, and Americans through the symbolism they know best and to introduce the iconography of the Holocaust into mainstream European art”.64 The explanation Krajewski offers seems rather simplistic, though. It is worth recalling here Rabbi Ignaz Maybaum, who, in his book The Face of God after Auschwitz, describes Auschwitz as “The Golgotha of modern mankind”,65 This Jewish philosopher and theologian argues that, during the Second World War, Jews suffered vicariously for the sins of mankind and that the Shoah marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the Jewish nation and of the world in general. However, “the fact that sacrifice was needed to achieve this new stage in history is, in Maybaum’s view, clearly a legacy of the Christian tradition. The cross on Golgotha is the central symbol of Christianity, and yet this symbol says: ‘One man must die so that others may live!’. Therefore, the Jews were crucified to save the lives of others!”66 Thus, in Maybaum’s interpretation, too, Jews became victims from the Christian perspective, and his argument can even be understood as an indictment. In the case of Niemiec and Zielonko’s memorial design, however, the intention seems to have been different. The authors refrained from the explicit use of Christian symbolism. Clearly, their aim was not to blame Christians or to appeal to their consciences by pointing to the analogy between the Shoah and the death of Christ ← 253 | 254 → on the cross. On the contrary, in wanting to create the most Jewish monument possible, Niemiec and Zielonko used the interpretation that was closest to them, and they did so in a completely natural way.

At this juncture, it is worth mentioning another design by the same artists which was to commemorate the cemetery by Treblinka I, the former penal camp and labour camp. Their description of it reads as follows:

The cemetery will be enclosed by a wall of granite fieldstone. From the entrance gate, the main path, planted with junipers, will lead through an open area giving views onto a chapel made of stone blocks. To the east of the chapel, a semi-circular wall crowned by an allegorical figure will bear the words “Requiescat in Pace” and a series of crosses. Placed before the wall will be graves containing exhumed remains, framed by a stone curb; the graves will be planted with wild flowers. A plaque situated between the chapel and the wall will describe the ordeal suffered by the prisoners of the penal camp. A pool of water will be situated before the plaque. On the opposite side of the wall, a great cross will be formed of paths planted with clusters of junipers in the form of rhythmically repeated blocks. The arms of the cross will afford views at one end of an apse decorated with bas reliefs and at the other of clusters of white birches. The glade will have low-growing plants such as heather or thyme as well as occasional clusters of trees or shrubs characteristic of the given landscape.67

images

← 254 | 255 → Design by Alfons Zielonko and Władysław Niemiec for the cemetery at the former Nazi labour camp Treblinka I, 1947-1948 (courtesy of AAN).

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← 255 | 256 → Design by Alfons Zielonko and Władysław Niemiec for the cemetery at the former Nazi labour camp Treblinka I, 1947-1948 (courtesy of AAN).

← 256 | 257 → These references to Christian tradition—now completely overt—support the claim that it was precisely from Christianity that the architects drew their inspiration. It is also plain to see that Niemiec and Zielonko made a simple distinction between Treblinka I—the place where Poles and Christians were exterminated, and Treblinka II—the place where Jews were exterminated. Although such a division is somewhat simplistic since there had also been Jews amongst the inmates of Treblinka I, one must concede that the architects, through the form and scale of their memorial designs, tried to represent the different history of the two places. Through their arrangement of the cemetery at Treblinka I, Niemiec and Zielonko wanted to allow the victims of the camp to be commemorated with dignity; and, by turning Treblinka II into a mausoleum, they wanted to highlight the uniqueness of the crimes committed there, expressed both in the huge number of victims and in the manner of their killing.

Although it was hard to reconcile the symbolism with Jewish interpretations of the Holocaust, the design was well received by the Presidium of the CKŻP. During a meeting with Zielonko, the committee members expressed their belief that “the artist has a deep understanding of the great tragedy of the Jewish nation and has found an artistic form to reflect it that is completely appropriate”.68 The CKŻP also decided to bear some of the cost of building the mausoleum.69 In 1957, in response to the announcement of a new competition to commemorate the death camp in Treblinka, Salo Fiszgrund stated at a meeting of the ROPWiM that “ten years ago there was a very good design for a memorial at Treblinka, but it was never implemented”.70 Both he and other members of the CKŻP Presidium must have been pleased that, after so many conflicts, the approved design had unequivocally treated Treblinka as a place where Jews were massacred.

The precise reason why the design was never implemented is not known. At a meeting of the CKŻP Presidium convened in February 1948, Fiszgrund, reporting on the situation at Treblinka, stated that there had been personnel changes in KUOT, that its meetings had become less frequent, and that work on the construction of the mausoleum had been halted.71 It was decided to intervene in this matter with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Culture, and the chairman of the ← 257 | 258 → ROPWiM. The CKŻP wanted, at the very least, to force the authorities to clean up the site and put up a commemorative plaque prior to an event marking the anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which was planned for April of that year. However, these plans likewise proved abortive.72 The last mention of KUOT dates from June 1948.73

Most probably, the fate of Niemiec and Zielonko’s design was sealed not only by the high cost of its implementation but also by ideological concerns. It seems completely unthinkable that a memorial with that kind of message could have been built in Poland after 1948/1949. First, as mentioned previously, the subject of the Holocaust had become completely taboo in Poland by the end of the 1940s. Second, as the Stalinisation of the country progressed, wartime remembrance gradually moved away from religious symbolism. Third, “the struggle against victimhood” announced by the Communist authorities shifted the emphasis away from martyrdom towards resistance and heroism, which was also reflected in forms of remembrance. Niemiec and Zielonko’s design did not thus conform to the new political imperatives in any respect.

_________________________

1     Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, pp. 249-251.

2     Jerzy Rawicz, “Skończyć z tą hańbą”, Robotnik, 22 Jul. 1947.

3     For more on this subject, see: Rusiniak, Obóz zagłady Treblinka II w pamięci społecznej (1944-1989), pp. 30-33; idem, “Treblinka—Eldorado Podlasia”.

4     Minutes of the meeting of the Former Treblinka Prisoners’ Group, 15 Jul. 1945 (Yiddish), AŻIH, Obozy 209/164. I am very grateful to Monika Polit for her translation of this document.

5     See, inter alia: the account of William Bein, representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Poland, of his trip to the USA (Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 1 Dec. 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP, 303/I/8).

6     Shorthand minutes of the meetings of the KRN 21-23 Jul. 1945, AAN, Biuro Prezydialne KRN 10 (mcf. B-7679, VIII Sesja KRN 1945).

7     Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 24 Jul. 1945, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/1-1b.

8     Report by J. Maciejewski and Z. Łukaszkiwicz on their investigative work on the issue of the concentration camps in Treblinka, AIPN, Obozy 66. BŻAP: 98/108 (9 Nov. 1945) and 104/114 (23 Nov. 1945).

9     Official letter to the CKŻP with an appeal for action in regard to the site of the former camp in Treblinka, 10 Nov. 1945, AŻIH, Obozy 209/160.

10   Ministry of Public Administration (MAP) to the Provincial Governor of Warsaw, 12 Dec. 1945, Archiwum m.st. Warszawy, Urząd Woj., Wydz. Społeczno-Polityczny 259.

11   Head of the Social and Political Dept of the Provincial Office in Warsaw to the District Governor in Sokołów, 10 Jan. 1946, Archiwum m.st. Warszawy, Urząd Woj., Wydz. Społeczno-Polityczny 259.

12   Provincial Office in Warsaw to MAP, 6 Feb. 1946, Archiwum m. st. Warszawy, Urząd Woj., Wydz. Społeczno-Polityczny 259.

13   “Były obóz w Treblince” (text appended to an official letter from the Provincial Governor of Warsaw, Lucjusz Dura, to MAP), 2 Jun. 1947, AAN, MAP 664 (Mkf. B-1683).

14   Jerzy Rawicz, “Skończyć z tą hańbą”, Robotnik, 22 Jul. 1947.

15   BŻAP 45/293, 15 May 1947.

16   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 6 Jun. 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/7a.

17   See, inter alia.: “Ludzie czy hieny? Nie wolno profanować popiołów męczenników”, Polska Zbrojna, 7 Sep. 1946; “Rozkopywali groby—bezcześcili zwłoki”, Głos Ludu, 27 Oct. 1946 (cited after: Friedrich, Der nationalsozialistische Judenmord in polnischen Augen, p. 443).

18   Provincial Governor of Warsaw, Lucjusz Dura, to the MBP, 13 Jun. 1947, IPN, KG MO 35/2677; Decision to appoint KUOT, no date, AAN, MAP 664 (Mcf. B-1683); report on the activity of the Ministry of Reconstruction for QIII 1947, AAN, Min. Odbudowy 158; AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/7b: Minutes of the meetings of the CKŻP Presidium of 4, 10 and 29 July 1947; Minutes of the meeting of KUOT, 2 Oct. 1947, AAN, MAP 664 (Mcf. B-1683); BŻAP: 58/306 (20 Jun. 1947), 72/320 (31 Jul. 1947).

19   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 29 Jul. 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/7b.

20   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 9 Oct. 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/8.

21   Minutes of the meeting of KUOT, 2 Oct. 1947, AAN, MAP 664 (Mcf. B-1683).

22   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 9 Oct. 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/8.

23   Ibid.

24   Those invited to enter the competition were as follows: Antoni Łyżwański, Franciszek Masiak, Wincenty Kasprzycki, Alina Szolcówna, Michał Palutko, Ewa Śliwińska, and Franciszek Krzywda-Polkowski, who was later replaced by Alfons Zielonko. Minutes of the meeting of KUOT, 2 Oct. 1947, AAN, MAP 664 (Mcf. B-1683); AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/8: Minutes of the meetings of the CKŻP Presidium of 2 Oct. and 9 Dec. 1947.

25   On the subject of the artists invited to enter the competition, see: Słownik Artystów Plastyków Okręgu Warszawskiego, edited by Andrzej Jenota, Warszawa 1972; Słownik artystów polskich i obcych w Polsce działających, edited by Jolanta Maurin-Białostocka, Warszawa 1971.

26   Report for QIV 1947, AAN, Min. Odbudowy 158; BŻAP 120/368, 4 Dec. 1947.

27   BŻAP 125/374-126/375, 22 Dec. 1947; Andrzej Leonard Nitsch, Leksykon Architektów i Budowniczych Polaków oraz cudzoziemców w Polsce działających, unpublished work in the collections of the Library of ZG SARP/Warszawa, pp. 21-23, 53-54; Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, p. 252.

28   In the document, the terms Treblinka I and Treblinka II are reversed. In commonly accepted nomenclature, the penal/labour camp built in 1940 is known as Treblinka I and the death camp, built in 1942, as Treblinka II, according to the sequence in which the two camps were erected.

29   Władysław Niemiec and Alfons Zielonko, Design to Commemorate the Cemetery in the Camp of Executions of the Jewish Nation in Treblinka I and the Cemetery by the Penal Camp in Treblinka II, 10 Feb. 1948, AAN, MKiS, CZM, Wydz. Muzeów i Pomników Walki z Faszyzmem 33. A description of the design, including sketches, was also published in “Cmentarz obozu zagłady narodu żydowskiego w Treblince”, Architektura 3 (1949), pp. 78-79.

30   Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, pp. 115-118; Bełżechitlerowski obóz zagłady 1942, catalogue published by the ROPWiM and the American Jewish Committee, Warszawa 2003.

31   On the subject of the designs created for the competition for an International Monument to the Victims of Fascism, see: Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, pp. 98-112; idem, “Konkursy na pomniki: Oświęcimski i Bohaterów Warszawy jako przykład kontrowersji między twórcą a odbiorcą” in Sztuka Polska po 1945 roku. Materials from a conference of art historians, Warsaw 1987, pp. 229-241; Jochen Spielmann, Entwürfe zur Sinngebung des Sinnlosen. Zu einer Theorie des Denkmals als Manifestation des “kulturellen Gedächtnisses”. Der Wettbewerb für ein Denkmal für Auschwitz, Dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin 1990; Young, The Texture of Memory, pp. 133-141.

32   Department for Museums and Monuments of Polish Martyrdom, undated, unsigned note probably from the turn of 1947/1948, AAN, MKiS, Wydz. Muzeów i Pomników Walki z Faszyzmem 1.

33   Insa Eschebach, “Zur Formensprache der Totenehrung. Ravensbrück in der frühen Nachkriegszeit” in Die Sprache des Gedenkens, p. 32.

34   Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, s. 13.

35   Janina Jaworska, „Nie wszystek umrę...” Twórczość plastyczna Polaków w hitlerowskich więzieniach i obozach koncentracyjnych 1939-1945, Warszawa 1975, p. 50.

36   According to the accounts of some former prisoners, on the rear face of the obelisk, somebody added the word “Juden” (Jews). Knigge, “Opfer, Tat, Aufstieg“, pp. 8-9.

37   APMAB, Fotografie, nr neg. 03440.

38   Knigge, “Opfer, Tat, Aufstieg, p. 14.

39   Marcuse, Legacies of Dachau, pp. 266-270, 282-285, figs 63, 64; Bełżechitlerowski obóz zagłady 1942.

40   Spielmann, Entwürfe zur Sinngebung des Sinnlosen, pp. 115-126; Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, pp. 101-102.

41   On the subject of the symbolic significance of the altar, and the religious symbolism of water in Judaism and Christianity, see: Manfred Lurker, Słownik obrazów i symboli biblijnych, Poznań 1989.

42   BŻAP 125/374-126/375, 22 Dec. 1947.

43   Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Polska rzeźba pomnikowa, p. 235.

44   On the subject of the message of the Warsaw Ghetto Monument see: Young, The Texture of Memory, pp. 163-174.

45   “Odsłonięcie pomnika męczeństwa w Oświęcimiu”, Opinia, 7 May 1948.

46   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 31 Mar. 1948, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/9.

47   Jankiel Wiernik, “O buncie w Treblince”, Głos Bundu, 15 Aug. 1947.

48   See: Stanisław Krajewski, “Żydowskie teologie zagłady” in idem, Żydzi, judaizm, Polska; Jonathan Sacks, “Cienista dolina. Holocaust w kontekście judaizmu”, Znak 507 (1997); Stefan Schreiner, “Żydowska myśl teologiczna po Oświęcimiu”, Znak 313 (1980).

49   In the description of the project published in the ŻAP Bulletin, the Hebrew version of the commandment was also given: “Lo tirtzakh” (BŻAP 120/368, 4 Dec. 1947).

50   Earlier, some CKŻP members had proposed pouring concrete over the site in order to protect the corpses from profanation. This was done in 1964. See: Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 19 May 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/7a.

51   Krajewski, “Żydowskie teologie zagłady”, p. 288.

52   On the subject of how the concept of sacrifice is understood in Judaism, see: Lurker, Słownik obrazów i symboli biblijnych; Foreword and footnotes in Tora Pardes Lauder. Księga trzecia Wajikra, edited and translated by Rabin Sacha Pecaric, Kraków 2005, pp. V-VII, 5-7. In this recently published Polish translation of the Torah, Rabbi Sacha Pecaric translates the Hebrew notion of korban not as “sacrifice” (ofiara), but as “surrender” (oddanie) or “approaching” (przybliżenie). The editor also draws attention to the unsuitability of the widely accepted translation of this notion as “sacrifice”, pointing to the etymology of the word and to the essential significance in Judaism of the ritual of slaughter of animals in the Temple before God. As a supplementary argument against the use of the word “ofiara” in the Polish translation of the Torah, Rabbi Pecaric cites the many connotations present in this word, which can cause vagueness in interpretation.

53   On the subject of the meaning of the term “Holocaust”, see: Schreiner, “Żydowska myśl teologiczna po Oświęcimiu”, pp. 901-902; Panas, “Szoah w literaturze polskiej”, pp. 37-38.

54   On the subject of the interpretation of the “sacrifice of Isaac” in Jewish theology, see: Schreiner, “Żydowska myśl teologiczna po Oświęcimiu”, p. 904.

55   On the subject of the term kiddush hashem and its use in relation to the victims of the Shoah, see: Krajewski, “Żydowska teologia Zagłady”, pp. 284-286 and Sacks, “Cienista dolina”, pp. 18-19 et al.

56   R. Auerbach, “Kadisz”, Nasze Słowo, 31 Dec. 1946.

57   Lurker, Słownik obrazów i symboli biblijnych, p. 149.

58   Kossak-Szczucka, Z otchłani, p. 201.

59   APMAB, Fotografie, nr neg. 03438.

60   This was the interpretation of the iconography of the monument cited in: BŻAP 60/308, 27   Jun. 1947.

61   On the subject of the meaning of memory in Judaism, see: Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, “Znaczenie w historii, pamięć i pisanie historii. Podstawy biblijne i rabiniczne”, Konteksty 1-2 (2003).

62   Krajewski, “Żydowska teologia Zagłady”, p. 274.

63   On this subject see: Alina Molisak and Aleksandra Sekuła, „Wątki biblijne w literaturze o Zagładzie. Wybrane przykłady” in Michał Głowiński et al. (eds) Stosowność i forma, Jak opowiadać o Zagładzie?, Kraków 2005, pp. 131-144.

64   Krajewski, “Żydowska teologia Zagłady”, p. 274.

65   Ibid, pp. 272-273; Schreiner, “Żydowska myśl teologiczna po Oświęcimiu”, p. 902. Both authors cite Maybaum’s book The Face of God after Auschwitz (London 1965).

66   Schreiner, “Żydowska myśl teologiczna po Oświęcimiu”, p. 903.

67   Niemiec and Zielonko, Design to Commemorate the Cemetery in the Camp of Executions of the Jewish Nation in Treblinka I and the Cemetery by the Penal Camp in Treblinka II, 10   Feb. 1948, AAN, MKiS, CZM, Wydz. Muzeów i Pomników Walki z Faszyzmem 33.

68   BŻAP 125/374-126/375, 22 Dec. 1947.

69   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 9 Dec. 1947, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/8; Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 26 Feb. 1948, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/9.

70   Minutes of the extended meeting of the ROPWiM Presidium, 27 Dec. 1957, AAN, MKiS, Gabinet Min. 92.

71   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 26 Feb. 1948, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/9. There was indeed a representative of the KC PPR in KUOT (BŻAP 32/408, 9 Apr. 1948).

72   AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/9: Minutes of the meetings of the CKŻP Presidium of 17, 24, and 31 Mar. 1948.

73   Minutes of the meeting of the CKŻP Presidium, 2 Jun. 1948, AŻIH, Prezydium CKŻP 303/I/11.