Preview of Polish Jewish museum

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Warsaw's Museum of Polish Jewish history is not due to open until 2012, but a London audience enjoyed a sneak preview.

Kathy Jones of museum designers Event Communications led a virtual tour, using artist's images of the building, which is now under construction.

Her presentation formed part of an international conference on Jewish links with Warsaw at the Institute of Jewish Studies, attached to University College London's department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

Around 60 scholars from across the globe attended the four-day event, convened by UCL's East European history specialist Francois Guesnet.

It was also organised to honour one of the experts in the field, Professor Antony Polonsky, formerly of the London School of Economics and now professor of Holocaust studies at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

The Polish embassy, which jointly sponsored the event, hosted a reception to mark his 70th birthday.

Dr Guesnet described Professor Polonsky "as probably the single most important mover in dealing with Polish-Jewish history over the past 25 years".

Professor Polonsky said: "What is impressive is the enormous amount of effort the Polish embassy has put in. It's a sign of their general commitment to discussion of the Polish-Jewish past."

The conference was one of the final activities of Polish Year in London, he noted. "What is striking is how many Jewish events there have been."

Most of Warsaw's 350,000 Jews perished in the Holocaust. But they proved influential in shaping a "new Jewish culture", Dr Guesnet explained - one which "has had a tremendous impact on Jewish culture today".

Last updated: 1:55pm, July 1 2010