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Poland Dossier memory, history & reverence

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Table of Contents 3

Poland and the meaning of Christmas

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Tourism, Tradition and Religion

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Auschwitz and the pain of humanity

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Warsaw: fight and rebirth

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Berlin: Memory and historical reparation

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Poland: an important political player

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Poznan: university polo

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Editor’s Letter The experience lived during the first fortnight of December of 2018 was what allowed the production of this magazine. Provided by the Compostella Group, the Stella for Staff program allows employees of public universities in South America to exchange with European public universities. And so, we arrived in Poznan, Poland, for days at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism of the Adam Mickwitz University, Póznan.. The next step was to establish a work program, agenda and schedule. Having the opportunity to produce a thematic dossier on the Holocaust, visiting places where relevant historical events took place, have further enriched this experience. In addition, this material reveals a distinct perspective, a Latin American, and Brazilian view. In this volume the reader can find a special article about memory, history and the reverent way as we perceive the treatment of the theme “Holocaust” in Poland. There are also stories about the Auschwitz and Birkenau extermination camps, the Warsaw Ghetto and the thematic tourist attractions and honors in Berlin. We also highlight the Christmas atmosphere found in the streets of Poland and the coverage of the Poznan-based discussion on the decisions of future entrants in the European Union. Finally, we thank the Dean of Faculty of Political Sciences and Journalism, Prof. Dr. Andrzej Stelmach, to Prof. Dr. Radosław Fiedler, Deputy Dean for international cooperation, Natalia Pastucha-Kalla, Head of the Dean’s Office and journalist Marcin Pera of the Information and Promotion Department for the reception during my stay in Poland. Welcome to this journey. Good reading.

João Paulo Vani “Stella for Staff” Professional Fellow 3


Poland and the meaning of Christmas: a personal report How surprising it was to get to Poland on the eve of Christmas! For a Brazilian who lives in a hot region, with summers marking temperatures above 40˚C and winters with temperatures above 15˚C, it was truly amazing to face the cold climate of Christian festivities in the Northern Hemisphere. And this, it’s just one of the good surprises I’ve experienced. Whether under Dickens’s influence or in “A Christmas Carol,” it brings about an accurate reflection of the true Christmas spirit, or under the influence about everything I have heard from an early age, I grew up listening to stories of the holy Pope John Paul II , born Karol Wojtyła, the feeling of being in a cold place surrounded by people with smiles and warm hearts, was a special moment. Walking through the streets in the late afternoon, already dark, and meeting people of all ages, happy, who gather in squares or small Christmas fairs and live intensely the preparations of the festivities of the birth of the Messiah is what in fact makes us believe in power of the date, of the rebirth of hope in our hearts; of the rebirth of kindness, of union, of joy. And so I illustrate this page, with the record made by Michał Kosiński during the action of WNPiD journalism students.

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And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. [Luke, 2:1-14]

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Tourism, Tradition and Religion Traveling through Poland in the days leading up to Christmas is undoubtedly a unique experience in any Christian’s life. To feel the way people live and rejoice in the preparations for the birth of Christ is something that can renew the faith. One of the traditions that most catches our attention among the many that surround the Christmas festivities is the empty chair left at the Poles table during dinner. It is believed that this ritual is inherited from the Slavic pagan beliefs, abandoned by the Poles after the conversion of the country in 966. For the Slavs, it was in the empty chair that the dead could take place at the table. With the introduction of Christianity, the empty chair took on new meaning, and began to refer to the journey of the Holy Family, as a reminder: one must accept an unexpected guest and never dismiss someone in need. Lastly, this tradition was again revisited in January 1863, when revolts against foreign occupations led to a mass deportation of those who rebelled to Siberia. Thereafter the empty chair came to symbolize, first of all, the hope of the return of those who had been deported. We can then allow us to draw a cultural and identity parallel between the empty chair at the Christmas celebration and the installation in honor of the Polish Jews in Ghetto Hero Square (p.8).

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From Kraków to Auschwitz: the way of the shame of humanity To come to Poland and tread the soil of Auschwitz is to feel the inevitable sense of anguish and suffering for all those who succumbed to evil, there, in the middle of nowhere. To stand in front of those gates with their sign “Arbeit macht frei”, which in German means “work frees”, in clear reference to the fantasy purpose of working there a field of work, not a field of extermination, as history reveals . For American theorist Lillian Kremer (2003), the Nazi Holocaust and its consequences created cultural and intellectual contexts, profoundly impacting individual and collective consciousness and generating abundant literature. This individual conscience can be understood by talking to Polish university students about the subject: almost eight decades later, it still causes the young Polish man to know that his country was the scene of such an atrocity, from which his own people were victimized. On the other hand, the collective conscience of the Polish people about the events of the Holocaust causes tourists to find in their main cities important locations for the development of the recent history of humanity. This is what happens when we are faced with the installation of 70 huge chairs inaugurated in 2005 at the Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square), in honor of the thousands of Jews who there suffered the worst humiliations that a human being can live: families being torn apart, mass deportations to the death camps, beatings and executions. Following deportations and the final liquidation of the ghetto, Plac Zgody (its original name) was strewn with furniture, clothes, luggage and other belongings that the victims had been forced to abandon.


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Of course we could try to forget the past. Why not? Is it not natural for a human being to repress what causes him pain, what causes him shame? Like the body, memory protects its wounds. When day breaks after a sleepless night, one’s ghosts must withdraw; the dead are ordered back to their graves. But for the first time in history, we could not bury our dead. We bear their graves within ourselves. For us, forgetting was never an option. Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. (WIESEL, 1986).


Warsaw: fight and rebirth The extreme and violent reaction of the Nazi state initiated with the “Night of the Broken Glass”, pogrom sanctioned by the Nazi government, between November 9 and 10, 1938, proved to be a growing force of persecution. In German, Kristallnacht, was an episode in which police and firefighters, under the command of Nazi officials, attacked houses, and commercial establishments of Jews and synagogues, resulting in a whole streets covered with shattered glass - hence the nickname “Night of the Broken Glass”. It is estimated that in the short time that acts of violence have been perpetrated against Jews, 267 synagogues have been vandalized and 20,000 Jews have been arrested, sent to concentration camps. After being dislodged, many Jews began to be sent to the closed ghettos, both in Lodz and Warsaw, whose creation had initially, according to the historian Burrin, the goal of further extortion of the Jews (BURRIN, 1990, p. 101). The city that was the scene of so many atrocities against Jews also witnessed the Levant of the Warsaw Ghetto, an act of resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, when about 300,000 of the 380,000 people in the ghetto had already been taken to the camps. extermination. For many of those still awaiting the execution of their death sentence, the prospect of dying fighting seemed more dignified than dying in a gas chamber.

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Watch the music video No Bravery, by James Blunt, an Holocaust tribute with real Warsaw images and scenes from the movie “The Pianist”.


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Art that soothes the Soul

The historical importance of Warsaw during the events of World War II, put it in evidence for various artistic productions. As much pain and suffering as the main elements of films such as “Schindler’s List” and “The Warsaw Zoo,” it is heartening for us to know that there were people who risked their lives and exchanged their fortune for shelter and human beings who, at that time, were treated with less consideration than animals. “The Pianist”, also set in Warsaw, reveals the excessive increase in violence against Jews from the Night of the Broken Glass, and presents to the world the tragic concept of the “pet Jew”. The situation experienced in the fiction by the protagonist of the film, that by his musical gifts is spared of the death by the Nazi official, happened “in the real world” with Bruno Schulz, writer, professor of art and plastic artist, that although they granted a survival to him , ended up dead in the middle of the street, by a rival officer of his protector. It is believed that at the time of his assassination, Schulz was working on his third book “The Messiah”. By that time, he had already published “The street of Crocodiles” and “Sanatorium under the sign of the hourglass”. 13


Berlin: Memory and historical reparation Walking through Berlin is a dialogue with some of the most important historical events of the last 100 years. And more than that, it is to observe the respectful and reverent way in which the Germans treat what may be their greatest identity scar: to have been the seat of decision making against humanity and not only against the Jewish people. In just two days in the German capital, it was possible to understand that the need for historical repair is pressing. The memorials and museums that refer to the hardships of the Holocaust are extremely well preserved and the tone of the materials offered to the tourist evokes reflection and respect. In addition, the experience of descending the Bundesstraße 2, passing the iconic Hotel Adlon and arriving at Pariser Platz, that night of December was not only framed by the Brandenburg Gate, but also was illuminated by a giant Menorah, celebrating the Hanukkah. In our visit to the museum “Topographie des Terrors”, we find a sensitive photographic exhibition on the two nights of persecution and destruction that went down in history as “Night of the Broken Glass”, and that in 2018 turned 80 years. The episode marked the beginning of the escalation in the repression of Jews, and that between 9 and 10 November 1938, not only did it victimize 91 Jews, but it also detained more than 30,000, who would later be sent to the concentration camps.

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Hard to believe that in the same place where the Nazi State boasted its flags, eight decades later it is possible to celebrate the Hanukkah.

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Poland: an important political player On December 4, at 12 noon, in room 121 of the WNPiD building, at Umultowska st. 89th, the academic debate “The Future of the European Union through the eyes of future members. The perspective of the countries of the Western Balkans “, which was attended by the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Poland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. The event, organized by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Szynkowskiego aka Sek and the authorities of the Department of Political Science and Journalism at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, reveals the importance of Poland as a political player. Skillfully, and in response to the citizens’ wishes, in just 15 years Poland moves from being a member of the Soviet Union of a member of the European Union.

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With almost 40 million inhabitants, Poland has recorded low unemployment and maintained good levels of economic growth, with GDP per capita close to US$ 14,000 (2017); care for children, and zeal for education are noticeable in environments such as museums, parks, zoos, and universities.

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Poznan: a good place to live The cozy Poznan is located on the banks of the River Warta. With about 650 thousand inhabitants, the city is an important part of Poland’s history, having been the first bishopric of the country in 968. Poznan was also, for two periods, the Polish capital: from 940 to 1039, and from 1290 to 1296. The city’s steady growth, which seeks to become relevant on the international stage, has led the British think tank World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) to include it in 2018 in a new and better ranking in their list of analyzed cities from various factors such as economy, culture, political events and historical patrimony. Poznan was ranked in the same category as other major metropolitan areas of the world such as Orlando, Ottawa, Nantes and Curitiba. In addition to the local infrastructure and history that Poznan offers its inhabitants, the city is home to Adam Mickiewicz University and its seventeen colleges, making it an important university hub in Poland.

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According to its institutional website, Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU), Poznań, Poland is the major academic institution in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska region) and one of the top Polish universities. Its 100-year old reputation is founded on long tradition of higher education in the City of Poznań and the outstanding current achievements of its staff, students and graduates. AMU is constantly developing its largest Poznan-based campus at Morasko (hosting 7 Faculties: Political Science and Journalism, Historical Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Matematics and Computer Studies, Geography and Geology), 25 minutes north of the city center as well as branch campuses in the following locations: Kalisz (Faculty of Fine Arts and Pedagogy), Gniezno (Institute of European Culture) and Słubice (Collegium Polonicum – located on the Polish-German border). Two more city campuses located in Poznań complete the picture: the Central Campus (with the Rector’s headquarters building-Collegium Minus, the main AMU Auditorium, main AMU Library and Faculties of English, Modern Languages, Polish and Classical Philology, Law and Administration, Theology) and the south-western campus (hosting the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Educational Studies). 19


About the Magazine All the texts and photos of this material, besides the layout, were produced by João Paulo Vani. The editor of this material is Dean’s Assistant at the Institute of Biosciences, Humanities and Exact Sciences of the São Paulo State University; PhD in Theory of Literature; President of the Brazilian Academy of Writers; Journalist (MTB 60.596/SP) and was awarded the “Stella for Staff” Program of the Compostela Group of Universities for a visiting professional program to the Department of Information and Promotion of the Faculty of Political Sciences and Journalism of the Adam Mickiewicz University, in Poznán, Poland. The revision of this magazine was made by my wife and travelling companion,Débora Regina Vasques.

Profile for João Paulo Vani

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