The opening of “The Image of Treblinka in the Eyes of Samuel Willenberg” exhibition took place on 26 January 2023, at the Nowy Dom Poselski in Warsaw. The event was attended by the IPN Deputy President Prof. Karol Polejowski and it was held under the Honorary Patronage of the Speaker of the Sejm Elżbieta Witek.
We firmly believe that remembrance is crucial. It has the power to keep the memory and the truth alive and to restore the dignity of victims. It shapes the consciousness of every nation, acting also as a warning against the power of totalitarian evil, said Prof. Karol Polejowski.
Samuel Willenberg was among 200 inmates who on 2 August 1943 succeeded in escaping from the Treblinka German extermination camp. At the moment of his death in 2016, he remained the last survivor of the rebellion in Treblinka. The sculptures by Samuel Willenberg depict people and situations he remembered particularly vividly from the time of his imprisonment in Treblinka.
Samuel Willenberg was a soldier of the Polish Army and the Home Army, as well as a participant of the Warsaw Uprising. After their leaving for Israel in 1950, he and his wife visited Poland on numerous occasions – often as guides for Israeli youth. They became spokespersons for good Polish-Jewish relations, hiding neither the tragic nor the beautiful events linking the two groups of Polish citizens during the German occupation of Poland.
In January 2020, the Institute of National Remembrance initiated an exhibition and educational project on the basis of sculptures by Samuel Willenberg, depicting people and situations he remembered particularly vividly during his imprisonment at Treblinka. These unique sculptures, constituting the world heritage of the Holocaust, were brought by the IPN from Israel for the purposes of the project. Willenberg's sculptures and the accompanying educational project e.g. workshops for young people, are the best form of teaching about the tragedy of the Holocaust.
The exhibition along with the educational project based on Willenberg's works has been possible thanks to the kindness and trust bestowed on the Institute by Ada Krystyna Willenberg, who tirelessly continues her husband's work in the name of preserving the memory of the Holocaust and its victims. The project also includes "Treblinka’s Last Witness", a documentary film produced by WLRN Public Television for South Florida, which is a first-hand account of Samuel Willenberg’s life as a Jewish prisoner of the death camp.
The IPN Office of International Cooperation intends to implement the project on an international level by showing the collection in former concentration camps and other remembrance sites in Germany. Subsequently, the exhibition would tour France and the USA.
More about the exhibition: "The Image of Treblinka in the Eyes of Samuel Willenberg" educational project