Both "Scream the Truth at the World – Emanuel Ringelblum and the Hidden Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto" and "The Jews of Czestochowa: Coexistence-Holocaust-Memory" open Feb. 16 and run through July 29, 2007. The public is invited to a free preview reception for both exhibits scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on February 15 at the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District.
"Scream the Truth" depicts the horror that faced Polish Jews during World War II, as documented by historian Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum.
In November 1940, Ringelblum enlisted a few dozen men and women to document the life of Polish Jews during the war. They collected documents, diaries, manuscripts and other works created by Jews, Poles and Germans. They called their secret group Oyneg Shabbes (Sabbath Joy), because they met on Saturdays. Ringelblum described their goals as to "alert the world to our fate…our pain and our torment…," to maintain contact between Jewish Warsaw and other communities and to collect documentation that would be used to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.
Soon after Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the members of Oyneg Shabbes understood, as did few others, that the Nazis were engaged in the systematic murder of all Jews. Determined that their efforts should survive even if they did not, members of Oyneg Shabbes buried their archive to preserve it for posterity.
Ten tin boxes unearthed in 1946 contained the first cache of the Oyneg Shabbes archive, and two milk cans found in 1950 contained the second. A third cache of documents has not been found.
The exhibit contains 50 framed reproductions of letters and photographs, along with original artifacts from the archive.
The exhibit was produced and is circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York City, and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland.
In contrast, the "Jews of Czestochowa" focuses on the city of Czestochowa, Poland – home today to 260,000 people and the site of the Jasna Góra Monastery (a Polish Lourdes-like destination for Roman Catholics) that was also a major center of Jewish life for centuries.
An estimated 40,000 Jews, constituting one-third of the city’s population, lived in Czestochowa just prior to World War II. Fewer than 100 Jews live there today.
The Houston exhibition is taken from one mounted in 2004 to recount the vitality and contributions of the once-vibrant Jewish community that formed an integral part of this important Polish city. That exhibition consisted of items drawn from the city archives, the collection of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and private collections.
The exhibit opens with a vibrant portrait of the Jewish community from the 17th century through the early 1900s, followed by an account of its near extinction during the Holocaust and life after World War II. The experiences of Czestochowa’s 40,000 Jews, and their Christian neighbors, are poignantly illustrated through 348 photographs, maps, artifacts and biographical videos and includes items based on the memories of Holocaust survivors, including Sigmund Rolat, president of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and Their Descendants.
The two exhibits are sponsored locally by Marcus D. Leuchter, Sterling Family Foundation, American Society for Jewish Heritage in Poland and The Bill and Helen Crowder Foundation.
An accompanying exhibit, "Inspired by Jewish Culture," is a selection of art projects by students of the Malczewski School of Fine Arts in Poland. Their work was motivated by the original "Jews of Czestochowa" exhibition in 2004. That exhibition is sponsored by Rolat and The Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.
Opening March 2 at the Museum is "Shanghai: A Refuge During the Holocaust," which was produced by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and documents the experience of more than 18,000 Jews who escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe to Shanghai, China between 1938 and 1940.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.
For more information, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.