Jewish Żarki. Lost photographs.


Brama Cukermana Foundation is going to publish a collection of unique, previously unpublished photographs by Józef (Joseph) Bacior. The pictures show the pre-war inhabitants of Żarki – a town on the Krakow-Czestochowa Jurassic Highland about 50 kilometers from Katowice. Before World War II approximately 5,000 people lived there, most of them, about 3,000, were Jews. They created a vibrant community, in fact the town was called „Jewish Żarki „ to distinguish it from another village with the same name located nearby. Photographs by Józef Bacior are one of the most important testimonies of the history of Żarki that survived intact to our times. They show us everyday life of Jews and Poles, typical residents of a small town before the outbreak of the Second World War. Thanks to them, we can glimpse at the reality already imposed by the Nazi occupation, which irreversibly destroyed the special community, traditions and culture of Polish Jews – the second largest Jewish Diaspora in the world. Photographs by Józef Bacior can also be considered as a unique sociological documentation of the residents of a small Polish-Jewish town portraying their clothing, faces as well as their emotions and relationships. These photographs are a treasure which we humbly share with you with true joy.

This book would not have been possible without the help of many people: we owe our special thanks to: Wojtek Mszyca, who was our first and best guide to Żarki;
Jolanta and Wojciech Gałecki who preserved for us this collection of photographs, which became the inspiration to work on this book; Henry Newman and Damian Kot, who generously donated photographs by Józef Bacior as a gift to the Cukerman’s Gate Foundation and supported our work on the book; Robert Kot, son Joseph Bacior, without whose help we would not have been able to identify several of the locations where the photographs were taken, and who graciously shared with us the memories of his father; Harry Birnholz, Iseec Opler and Ezra Laudon, whose families came from Myszków and Żarki and who shared with us their stories and photographs from their personal collections; the mayor of Żarki Klemens Podlejski and Katarzyna Kulińska-Pluta for their extraordinary kindness and assistance during many phases of the project; Adam Widera ,who inspired us to carry out our work and helped with the process of digitizing the photographs. Special thanks to Shimshon and Ofra Jashvitz for love and friendship.

Publication co-financed by Marshal’s Office of Silesian Voivodeship
Partner: Town and Borough of Żarki

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