Victory for Gdansk ghetto memorial campaigners

After fears rapid development would prevent site's commemoration, government announces plan will go ahead


The government of the Polish city Gdansk has announced plans to build a memorial commemorating the site of the city’s former Jewish ghetto.

The move is a victory for local activists who, as the JC reported in January, feared time was running out to remember the ghetto because of the rapid development and gentrification of Granary Island, where the ghetto once stood.

From 1940 onwards, the old Red Mouse Granary on the island served as the ghetto for the city’s remaining 600 Jews and the last stop before deportation to death camps throughout occupied Poland. The building was destroyed by bombing in 1945.

The site “is one of the last empty places [on the island] not full of luxury apartments,” Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, poet, musician, and the grandson of a concentration camp survivor, told the JC.

He described the ghetto as a “forgotten” part of Gdańsk’s history.

The shape of the memorial will be unveiled later this year. Its previous implementation was held up due to the “unregulated ownership situation” of land on Granary Island, the city maintains.

Maciej Buczkowski, deputy director of the mayor’s office, told the JC that the city is currently in talks with Gdansk’s Jewish community — which today has around 100 members — as well as the city’s monument commission about the nature of the memorial.

The future memorial on Granary Island will constitute the city’s first formal remembrance of the Holocaust beyond a Kindertransport statue that stands outside the central station.

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