Category Archives: Project

Fifth Update: Text for Project

I’ve been searching for information on a specific memorial that I would love to use in my project. But it’s been more difficult to find this information than I had previously expected.

This week’s project update asks for a textual piece of information that we would like to use in our project in some way. A very important law, when discussing Polish memory, is the law of Commemoration of the Suffering of the Polish People, which was enacted on July 2, 1947 in Poland. I want to have a portion of this law on my project site because this law played an important role in the transmission of memory in Poland, specifically at sites of death camps.

 

One site I want to discuss in this project is the Majdanek State Museum. The museum is at the site of the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland and today provides valuable education on the Holocaust in Poland. What’s really interesting about the Majdanek State Museum is that it was set up in 1944, as the camp was liquidated by the Red Army, and became the state monument of martyrology for Poland. However, what that information doesn’t tell you, is that the museum (in its formative years) did not accurately portray the intent of the camp as well as the primary victims of the camp. Most information portrayed at Majdanek in the initial years of the museum did not mention Jews as the primary victims.

The Law of Commemoration of the Suffering of the Polish People played a crucial role in shaping the remembrance of the Polish people. In it’s initial years as a museum, Majdanek State Museum focused on its Polish victims, rather than its Jewish victims. This had incredible repercussions for the Polish understanding of the Holocaust.

I have a copy of a piece of the law that is specifically about Majdanek that I will incorporate into the project. I will also provide a translation since it is in Polish.

Project Update: 6/23/17

The following image is one of my favorite photographs that I’ve come across in my research and one I want to use in my project:

(Photo by Hank Walker/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

This image shows the Rapoport Monument to Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, Poland in 1948. I love this image for quite a few reasons. The ruins are what is most evident in this photo. But someone with no background to this monument or this image might assume that it withstood whatever caused the rubble around it. It is not obvious from a first glance what this monument symbolizes or what it was built for.

This monument was actually built immediately after the end of the World War II by Nathan Rapoport, in honor of the Jewish men and women that were a part of and died in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The area where this memorial was built is called Muranow, a neighborhood where many Warsaw Jews lived before the war and where the Warsaw Ghetto was established during the war. This region was completely destroyed during World War II, leaving nearly thirty feet of rubble covering the entire region.

For this reason, this monument is even more remarkable. It is one of the first monuments to the Holocaust that I know of that was built in Poland after the war. It was built and established before Warsaw could even be repaired. This region did not have homes, or theaters, or restaurants, but it did have this memorial.

Today, the site is unrecognizable, except for this monument. Muranow has been built around this monument ever since the end of the war.

This monument is really a unique example of post-war monuments in Poland. When used in comparison with other monuments built in Poland post-World-War-II, this monument could be a fascinating way to understand memory in the post-war period. It shows a complicated aspect of memory…the new memorial in stark contrast to the ruins of Jewish life in Poland. I am excited to use in my project!

Project Update

In terms of the audience for this project, I think the project will be targeted towards students. The goal of the project is to better understand how communist regimes helped shape current understandings of the past. The group that would be most interested in learning about this history would probably be students or anyone that is interested in communist regimes, and how Eastern European countries have dealt with collective trauma. This is a broad idea of an audience, but it is such a specific topic that it needs to be aimed at a broader audience (for now, at least.)

Project Update

I’ve been thinking about this project for a weeks now. After doing some research and attempting to find sources for this project, I’ve realized that I might need to narrow this project a bit.

While I still want to focus on the narrative of the Holocaust/Jewish life in Poland post-World-War-II and how the incoming communist government altered that narrative, I might have trouble finding the wide range of primary sources for this type of project (particularly since I lack access to many of them). With that being said, I have decided to focus on monuments and memorials and how they show the communist government’s implied and forced narrative of the Holocaust and of Jewish life in Poland.

I feel as though a digital project is probably the best way to discuss this topic, since most of my sources will be images of monuments and memorials. I think the digital environment can showcase these memorials and monuments in a way that a paper cannot. I hope to create a site that can portray these important sites in a unique way, that encourages thoughts on historical narrative and collective memory. Also, I want the site to be as interactive as possible, so that viewers can nearly “get their hands on” these sites.

Project Idea

My research recently is focused on how Poland remembers and understands its Jewish past.

There are two important notions about this history that are not well understood or portrayed.

First is the fact that Jews lived in Poland for nearly one-thousand years before the Holocaust. This is often forgotten. History work, stories about the Holocaust, tend to not mention that Jews were Poles. Jewish history was Polish history in this sense. But because of the Holocaust and World War II and the destruction they caused, it is difficult for us to remember those one-thousand years.

Second is what happened immediately after World War II. A communist regime came into Poland and within three years took over the government. This regime pushed a new historical narrative about the war, one that featured the Polish citizens as the true victims of Nazi Germany. The Jews, and the Holocaust, ended up hidden in this narrative. When Jan Gross published Neighbors in 2000 and even with more recent publications that expose Polish actions against Jews during the war, the Polish public and government nearly rioted. In order to understand their reactions to these publications, we must understand the role communism played in this historical narrative. Often, I feel that Americans lack an understanding of communism because of the effects of the Cold War. Eastern Europe has been hidden from American focus because of their communist roots. Students rarely learn about Eastern Europe or communism, though information on World War II and the Holocaust is widely available. It is time to change this.

For my project, I would love to make a project that could help elucidate this period post-World War II. As of right now, I’m not sure how to do this. In the past, my research has used material culture to understand this history and I’d love for this project to use material culture as well. But I also want to go beyond material culture to use other sources for knowledge on the communist narrative of the Holocaust.

Reflection on this Semester

This semester was a tough one: I was incredibly busy with all three classes I took this semester, as well as in my personal life. However, I felt as though I learned a lot this semester and am excited with how my final project turned out.

First, I loved the topic of this course. Public history has always been an interest of mine. The school I went to for undergrad sat on a historic area of Maryland, on which there is a public history institution today. As an archaeology student, I ended up doing a lot of public history work at digs and field schools, showing and teaching the public about archaeology. It was really wonderful to take this course, as it reinforced a lot of my own knowledge about public  history. I was also introduced to public history projects that I was previously unfamiliar with. Getting introduced to new projects and tools used for public history helps me gain an understanding of the scope of this discipline. It also helped me formulate ideas for my project.

I was really unsure what I wanted to do more project. This was mostly because I had a hard time visualizing what I could do and what possibilities I had. I had never made a digital public history project before! And I am still fairly unfamiliar with digital tools, making websites, etc. Of course, I wanted to make a project on something I’m interested in and something I’m passionate about.

Eventually, with the help of Professor Leon, I came up with a few ideas. My favorite idea came from some of my travels to Poland. I have been fascinated with the idea of memory about the Jewish past in Poland. Particularly the city of Warsaw, which once had one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, fascinates me. The city was nearly completely destroyed during World War II, along with its Jewish population. When I visit Warsaw, I am struck by how little of the Jewish town is left, and by how the main way to remember Jewish history in Warsaw is through monuments and memorials.

Jewish Warsaw became my project for this semester. I used Omeka to store items, in this case the locations of Jewish history in Warsaw. From Omeka, I was able to design a website to showcase these sites. The hope of Jewish Warsaw is that people interested in Jewish history, or people interested in traveling to Warsaw, would have a guide to the Jewish history of the town. I also wanted to add a map to the project. I ended up using the Geolocation plugin through Omeka to link my sites with a map of Warsaw. I would have preferred to use something like Curatescape, but I didn’t have enough time to learn how to use it. Hopefully I could learn how to use Curatescape in the future. For now, Geolocation gets the job done and is really easy to use.

I realized that it is an incredibly tedious process to create a digital project. I only ended up having around 12 items (there are so few Jewish sites left in Warsaw) and yet it took months of editing, adding, and re-editing to make it better and better. I realized that this type of project could, in essence, never be “finished.” It is a constant work in progress, and could be edited and fixed forever. This is frustrating, but its also exciting. I could essentially keep adding and working on this project for years.

Ultimately, I am happy with project. I think the topic is fascinating and I love seeing all the components of my research come together. While I think my project could look better, for my first time ever creating a website, I think I did pretty well. I am excited to have a finished project and one that I would be excited to share with others.

Project Update: 4/18/17

It’s been a fairly tumultuous week, as my soon-to-be brother-in-law had serious complications from a surgery. We’ve been in and out of hospitals all week. As I write, I’m sitting in The Johns Hopkins Hospital ICU waiting room.

Needless to say, I’ve been attempting to make progress on my project but it’s been slow going. I’m still trying to go back and edit the items in Omeka and make sure I did the metadata correctly. Also, I am editing them to give better descriptive information.

I am also currently trying to decide which method I want to take in order to get a geospatial component to my project. My professor has given me a few options: Curatescape, Neatline, and the Geolocation plugin.

While I would love to do a Curatescape project, it seems like a lot of work. And it would be the type of work that I would not know how to do.

As of right now, I think I’m going to try to use the Geolocation app. I want to attempt to add it to my project and then see how it would turn out. If I am unhappy with it, I will try Curatescape.

I’m concerned about timing and having enough time to really work on this project. But I am trying. We will see how Geolocation works!

Project Update: 4/7/2017

I still feel a bit behind on my project. This semester has been insanely busy and so I’m trying to piece together this project little, by little…

So far, I have six sites on my website. I have had to re-work much of the metadata (since I did it incorrectly at the beginning of the project). Now that I have fixed it, I am ready to add more sites to my project.

Besides adding more sites to the project, I want to go back through the sites already uploaded to the project and add more descriptive information to their pages. When I first worked on the site, I wanted to get the sites uploaded, so I put basic, general descriptions of the site on the page. Now, I need to go back and add more information, so that this could truly be an educational and informative project.

I have also recently downloaded the Exhibit Builder and have added an exhibit to my project on “Warsaw Holocaust Sites.” Once I have added more sites to my project, I will be able to expand this exhibit as well as add other exhibits.

I want there to be other components, like a map component, to my project. So my next steps will be to figure out what other plug-ins I can install on Omeka that will expand the usability of my project.

Setting Up a Digital Project

In Modules 4 and 5, we have read about the importance of planning. I have learned from the past few weeks that planning for a digital project is a crucial step in the process of building the site.

Content mapping and building a map for your digital project are important, early steps to take. When I first read about the content mapping and site planning, I thought that it was something I would not be able to accomplish at this early stage. I thought, “how can I draw out a map of my project if I’m not even sure what my project will turn out to be like?” But it turns out that this step is crucial.

Even at this early stage of my project, building a map of my project helped me visualize the steps I would need to take to physically build the website. It helped to piece together the data I had and how they could interact in my project.

Now, as I work through building exhibits, and the rest of my project, I have a plan and goal in mind for this project because I have already created a map for and designed my project.

Project Proposal

The Jewish history of Poland is often hidden within the Polish landscape. Nazi destruction of Jewish sites, World War II and its destruction of Poland, post-war anti-Semitic destruction, have all contributed to a lack of pre-war Jewish sites remaining in Poland. Another reason for the lack of Jewish sites in Poland today, is the Polish collective memory about the Jewish population and the Holocaust. Though many Jewish sites in Poland were destroyed, the Jewish history in Poland remains. Visitors to Poland will most likely interact with Polish-Jewish history through monuments and memorials than physical historical sites in their travels. And most of the Jewish history still standing in Poland are remnants of the Holocaust: concentration camps, ghetto walls, and death camps.

This project, with the help of the digital world, will aim to make Polish-Jewish history more visible. This project will focus on the capital of Poland, Warsaw, and its Jewish past. In its end, it will be an interactive map of Jewish locations within Warsaw. The user can visit this site to use the map and discover images and more information about these Jewish sites. Users will engage with this project in order to learn more about the Jewish past in Poland. Images of the Jewish sites will show the changes that have occurred to Warsaw and users will witness how the landscape has changed. Information from images will give users information about the changing landscape. Hopefully, this project will bring up the following questions:

  1. How have Jewish sites in Warsaw changed over time?
  2. Why have Jewish sites in Warsaw changed in such a way?
  3. What types of Jewish sites exist in Warsaw today? And why?
  4. How would travelling to Warsaw be different than experiencing it through this site?
  5. Without this digital tool, how would people experience Warsaw?
  6. Is Jewish history in Warsaw remembered? If so, how is it being remembered?

In order to complete this project, various digital technologies will be used. First, Omeka will be used as a base site through which the project will function. Omeka will contain the digital collection, images (and their subsequent) information. From there, I will use various plugins, such as Curatescape, in order to create a mapping template for the site.

The goal of this project is to engage with the public about the Jewish history of Poland. The hope is that users will utilize this project to either help them do research or aide them when visiting Poland. The target audience for this project is anyone in the public who is interested in Polish-Jewish history. Many of those that will use this project will have family that were Polish-Jews. This project is also geared towards anyone interested in travel, especially travel to Poland. While this project is specifically focused on Poland’s history, it aims to help the public to not travel “blindly,” to ascertain knowledge and questions about a place’s history before visiting.