Samuel Willenberg's legacy to remain in Poland for another year

The efforts of the Institute of National Remembrance made it possible to keep Samuel Willenberg's sculptures in Poland for one more year. According to the artist's last will, they will ultimately be exhibited in a pavilion of the Treblinka Museum.

  • One one Samuel Willenberg's sculptures
    One one Samuel Willenberg's sculptures

In January 2020, the Institute brought all 14 sculptures from Israel. "The Image of Treblinka in the Eyes of Samuel Willenberg" exhibition, created on their basis and accompanied by an educational project, toured a number of Polish cities and was enormously popular despite the pandemic. For those who could not see it in person, the Institute of National Remembrance created a virtual walk around the exhibition in Polish and English. It is available here:

In early 2021, the exhibition of the Institute of National Remembrance will appear in the Cultural Center in Opatów, which, after Częstochowa and Treblinka, was the most significant place in the artist's life. It was here that before the war, his father Perec Willenberg created his paintings on the synagogue walls. It also housed the ghetto established by the Germans during the war, from which, in October 1942, young Samuel and 6,500 other people were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp. He was the only one to survive.

In the spring, the exhibits will arrive at the "Świętokrzyski Shtetl" Educational and Museum Center in Chmielnik, located in the former synagogue. The reconstructed and restored building reflects several hundred years of Jewish history in Chmielnik, as well as life typical for a pre-war shtetl. The Willenberg sculpture exhibition will be on display here until the end of April.

In addition to all that, the IPN is in the advanced stage of negotiations with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, which is planning to exhibit the sculptures in its subordinate institutions.

The Institute always intended and aimed for Mr. Willenberg’s art to stay in Poland until the completion of the construction work at the Treblinka Museum, where they would find the most worthy place, in line with the artist's last wish. Willenberg's legacy and accompanying projects, e.g. the workshops for young people, are the best form of education about the tragedy of the Holocaust, and at the same time a warning for future generations against any form of totalitarianism. The advocate of this way of teaching was Willenberg himself – a long-time educator of young people from Poland and Israel. Currently, this work is being continued by his wife Ada Krystyna Willenberg née Lubelczyk.

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