Donors suspend Poland Jewish museum funding

Donors suspend Poland Jewish museum funding

Community organisation reportedly withdraws money for the Polin museum out of concerns about the government’s failure to renew the term of its director.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A Jewish association says some private donors to Poland’s renowned Jewish history museum have suspended funding out of concerns about the government’s failure to renew the term of its director.

In May, a special commission approved Dariusz Stola for another five-year term, but Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has not yet officially reappointed him.

Glinski said he was still weighing the decision, because Stola had allegedly refused to make the museum available for a conference that was to be dedicated to the late twin of ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

A spokesman for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews said a request for a conference dedicated to the late Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, had been made four years ago – and was met with openness and a suggestion that political scientists be invited as co-organisers. No conference has yet taken place.

The government also criticised the tone of last year’s exhibit mentioning Poland’s March 1968 antisemitic campaign. The Communist authorities’ campaign blamed Poland’s difficulties on its Jews, driving thousands abroad.

Opened in 2013, the museum presents the 1,000-year history of Polish Jews and of the Holocaust. It is also
a conference and debate centre promoting tolerance and fighting prejudice.

It is jointly managed and funded by a Jewish association, the city of Warsaw and the Culture Ministry. All three bodies were represented in the commission approving Stola for another term.

Piotr Wislicki, head of the co-funding Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, said many donors have suspended contributions out of concern for its future.

The museum was seen internationally as an ambassador in the “very delicate” Polish-Jewish dialogue, he said, adding the lack of a “captain” did not help.

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