v A memorial plaque marking the site of the former Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Gdansk has been unveiled.
The ceremony, attended by the mayor of Gdańsk Aleksandra Dulkiewicz and the chair of the local Jewish community Michał Samet, brought to a close a difficult and disputatious chapter in the city’s history.
As the JC reported last January, local campaigners including musician Grzegorz Kwiatkowski and journalist Dorota Karas had warned that due to rapid urban development in the centre of Gdansk (formerly Danzig), time was running out to put up a memorial near the site of the old Red Mouse Granary.
From 1940 onwards, the granary served as the ghetto for the city’s remaining 600 Jews and the last stop in Gdansk before deportation to death camps throughout Poland.
The building was destroyed by bombing in 1945. Local campaigners had feared the vacant space would become a site for luxury apartments.
But their persistence paid off when, in April, the city government announced plans to install a memorial plaque, the city’s first formal remembrance of the Holocaust beyond a Kindertransport statue that stands outside the central station.
The plaque depicts the location of the old granary as well as what it used to look like.
“The place where the Danzig Ghetto was located is passed by many Danzigers every day. But few know just how dramatic the fate of the people gathered there was,” mayor Dulkiewicz said at the unveiling earlier this month.
“May the plaque we are unveiling today become another step in the dissemination of knowledge about the history of this community.”
The text of the plaque reads in four languages — Polish, Hebrew, English and German — that: “The Red Mouse Granary, where the German Nazis created a ghetto for Gdansk Jews in the summer of 1940, stood here.”
Samet commented: “It is worth remembering that degenerate forms of power do not arise on their own. They are not born in a vacuum. They are often backed by the silence of society and sometimes by tacit consent. However, history shows that it is worth saying no, it is worth being in opposition to evil, it is worth being decent.”