Krystyna Nowakowska, former director of the cultural organization Odnowica, launched the project Pamietnik (Diary) in 2007, engaging young people to read and learn about Dawid Rubinowicz and the former Jewish community of Bodzentyn.
Krystyna Nowakowska has been living with her husband Radek Nowakowski in Dabrowa Dolna, a village nearby Bodzentyn, since the mid-1990s.
As the head of the cultural organization, Odnowica Krystyna Nowakowska received a phone call in the summer of 2006 from a woman who claimed to make inquiries about the Jewish cemetery on behalf of a man currently living in Sweden.*
When Krystyna Nowakowska discussed the issue of the cemetery with mayor Marek Krak he informed her of a diary that was written by a Jewish boy during the Nazi occupation of the city. It turned out that Krystyna’s husband Radek Nowakowski was keeping a copy of that book – The Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz – at home in his library.
In 2007 Krystyna Nowakowska launched the project Pamietnik (Diary) supported by the Stefan Batory Foundation tolerance program. In the project young people were engaged to attended different workshops. Several of them also participated in cleaning the Jewish Cemetery.
– The Diary was instrumental for people to approach this subject anew, says Krystyna Nowakowska.
After the first project, several teachers began teaching about Dawid Rubinowicz in school.
– It was not so easy for me to bring up this topic, Krystyna says. I did not know so much about it. In retrospect, I am glad that I dared to initiate the project.
*The man Krystyna Nowakowska refers to was Max Safir.
After studying the Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz the young people who participated in the Pamietnik Project, set out to recreate scenes from the book using a pinhole camera.
This photo was taken with a camera obscura, depicting the life of Jews in Bodzentyn in the time of Nazi occupation. The scene is inspired by the Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz.
During the Pamietnik Project, the images were edited so that they would recall the 1940s. Some of the photographs were arranged with subtitles in poster formats and exhibited at the local high school. The local historian, Stefan Rachtan, made a speech about Dawid Rubinowicz and the former Jewish community of Bodzentyn.
In cooperation with Dorota Anyż and Artur Anyż, Krystyna Nowakowska directed the process to set up a play based on the Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz. It was performed for the first time on 28 September 2008, as part of the first official commemoration of the lost Jewish Community.
– We wanted to raise a discussion about tolerance, and what it is all about, Dorota and Artur Anyżowie, comment.
– The Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz tells us about people's experiences of the Bodzentyn ghetto. In simple words, Dawid describes the episodes and stages of the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust.
The actors in the performance were young people from and around Bodzentyn and Kielce.
– They know the places that Dawid talks about, and they have heard their grandparents stories about those horrific times.
For Dorota and Artur Anyżowie, it was essential to tell about the suffering of Dawid, whose short childhood and life was interrupted.
– We must remember what happened in the past so that it will never happen again.
On 28 September 2008, the play based on The Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz was performed for the first time in Bodzentyn by local actors: Martyna Iwan, Sabina Nowakowska, Ewa Dziuba, Milena Winiarska, Antoni Anyż, and Patryk Dyk. Script and direction: Dorota Anyż and Artur Anyż.
In addition to the play based on the Diary, in 2009 Dorota Anyż and Artur Anyż also directed a play based on a Polish version of the book The Last Selection – A Child’s Journey Through the Holocaust by Goldie Szachter Kalib. Over the years the play has been performed several times.