Warsaw’s Jewish heritage on show
June 13, 2014
An exhibition at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews offers a glimpse of Warsaw as it was before World War II, when the city was home to the world’s second-largest Jewish community after New York City.
Entitled Warszawa, Warsze, the exhibition comprises archival documents, paintings and photographs. Arranged in chronological order, the exhibition begins with items from the late 18th century.
The primary focus of Warszawa, Warsze are Warsaw’s distinctly Jewish neighborhoods, such as Muranów and Nalewki Street, where Yiddish was spoken and the streets bustled with sidewalk stalls, stores and craftsmen’s workshops. Visitors to the museum can see how the elegant Senatorska Street and the Tłomackie Street area, a favorite meeting place for progressive intellectuals, once looked.
The exhibition also delves into the shady atmosphere of Gnojna Street and Iron Gate Square, and brings to life the Jewish microcosm of Warsaw’s Praga district, whose local horse fair attracted many Jews in the 18th century. The exhibition also takes in the Vistula River, which used to be a popular bathing spot and which simultaneously served as a trade route for Jewish merchants dealing in grain and other products.