Genesis and the process of building the Museum
After the resolution was passed in 2008, a commission was appointed to develop the objectives for the new museum. The local authorities of the Podkarpackie Region decided that the construction would be conducted, on their behalf, by the Castle Museum in Łańcut. In 2010 the project was entered into the long-term investment plan. The competition for the concept of the Museum of Poles Saving Jewish People (MPRŻ) was held in the same year and it was won by Nizio Design International – NDI (previous projects executed by the design studio include permanent exhibitions in Warsaw Uprising Museum, Museum - Memorial Site in Bełżec and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews).
NDI proposed a concept of the building based on minimalist architecture, to emphasize the tragic aspects of the past events and the mortal danger threatening those who helped Jewish people during the Nazi occupation. The museum courtyard holds the monument to Victims of the Holocaust, and plaques with names of Poles slaughtered during the Nazi occupation in the area of the Podkarpackie Region, for the help provided to Jews. More plaques, with names of Poles who saved Jews in Podkarpacie, are located on the monumental memorial wall.
In 2013, Skanska company won the call for bids for the construction of MPRŻ. The construction was continued for 2 years (from October 2013 until October 2015). In September 2015 MWE company was selected in course of tender procedure to design the layout of the permanent exhibition. The design was prepared by Dr. Elżbieta Rączy and Dr. Mateusz Szpytma, and approved by MPRŻ Program Commission. The construction process was supervised by the project manager, Bożena Knotz-Beda from the Castle Museum in Łańcut.
The total cost of the project amounted to8,656,437 PLN, and included 1 million PLN subsidy from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and 115,000 PLN was contributed by the Castle Museum in Łańcut from its own resources. The remaining amount of 7,541,437 PLN was obtained from the budget of the Podkarpackie Region.The land for the construction of MPRŻ was provided, free of charge, by the Commune of Markowa.
Partners as well as individuals and communities supporting the initiative
In addition to the institutions executing and financing the investment, the greatest support was provided by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), in particular IPN Branch in Rzeszów and IPN Branch in Cracow, whose employees designed the concept for MPRŻ and its permanent exposition. Additionally IPN provided most of the materials on presented at the exhibition and used in the museum’s activities. The Institute also donated materials acquired from private holdings, in the process of collecting materials for books, by Elżbieta Rączy Pomoc Polaków dla ludności żydowskiej na Rzeszowszczyźnie (Rzeszów 2008), E. Rączy and Igor Witowicz, Polacy ratujący Żydów na Rzeszowszczyźnie w latach 1939-1945 (Rzeszów 2011) and Mateusz Szpytma Sprawiedliwi i ich świat. Markowa w fotografii Józefa Ulmy (Warszawa–Kraków 2007, 2nd edition Kraków 2015).
The partners of the initiative included the co-financing institutions: Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, (subsidy of 1 million PLN for the construction) and Commune of Markowa (land, rerouting of installations). MPRŻ Program Commission included employees of IPN, Jagiellonian University, National Culture Centre and the members of the regional council.
MPRŻ purpose and mission
MPRŻ is mainly designed to commemorate and disseminate information about Poles who during the Nazi occupation risked their lives to provide help to Jewish people sentenced to annihilation by the Third Reich.
The goal will be achieved first of all by presenting the permanent exposition related to the relevant issues, to the public in the Podkarpackie Region and in the future by adding nationwide perspective. In addition to the main exposition hall the museum also comprises a smaller room, with seating for 50 visitors, to be used for various events, such as film screenings, museum classes for young visitors, discussion meetings, etc. In the future it will also be possible to organize academic conferences here. The operations initiated by MPRŻ will also include educational programs for teenagers from Israel whose visit to Markowa should not be limited to the exploration of the exposition but should include workshops and lectures organized by MPRŻ.
It is necessary to organize meetings with Poles saving Jewish people during the war, and with their families. MPRŻ will also focus on gathering documents. This will enable expanding and possible modification of the exposition. Moreover the findings will be shared with researchers, journalists and, most importantly, with all those interested in these issues. Other activities will include recording accounts of those who witnessed extermination of Jews and efforts made by Poles to save them. MPRŻ should acquire documents (or their copies) related to the issues presented by the museum. Many such documents are in the holdings of other institutions – MPRŻ should obtain their copies and the right to use them in activities carried out by the museum.
If possible, the museum will record not only accounts of Poles saving Jewish people during the war, but also reports contributed by individuals whose activity has been inspired by the conduct of the Righteous. This should be one of the major types of activities conducted by the museum, and it will become particularly important after the last witnesses pass away. Notably, one of the ideas motivating the founders of MPRŻ was the willingness to raise awareness about positive attitudes to other people.
The museum’s operations will presumably make it possible to acquire information about previously unknown Poles who saved Jewish people as well as supplementary information about those who are already known. In such cases, following a decision taken in cooperation with IPN, plaques with new names should be added to the memorial square (in each case during a solemn ceremony). It may be necessary to modify the names of the heroes (documents sometimes contain confusing information), or to add other family members, etc. In this sense, the museum exposition in Markowa will constantly be supplemented and improved. In justified cases, the Museum should apply to the President of the Republic of Poland and to Yad Vashem for awarding the order and the medal of Righteous among the Nations of the World, respectively. Effort should be made to ensure the relevant ceremonies should be held at MPRŻ.
Holdings and materials
In the short period of time MPRŻ has acquired the first historical artefacts and documents related to Poles saving Jewish people during the Nazi occupation. The acquisitions include furnishings from the house of the Ulma family, and copies of majority of photographs taken by Józef Ulma. In the holdings there are also some original photographs, including a picture from 1940 with traces of blood of those slaughtered by the Nazis on 24 March 1944. The collection also includes doors with traces of bullets from the time the Baranek family were executed by the Nazis for the help provided to Jewish people.
MPRŻ is receiving accounts related to Poles saving Jewish people during the Nazi occupation. These will be verified and used in the activities carried out by the Museum.
Agenda of events accompanying the official opening of The Ulma Family Museumo
f Poles Saving Jews in World War II on 17th March 2016:
10.00 Jagiełła - Jewish and Christian joint prayer at the cemetery where the remains of the Didner, Grünfeld and Goldman families rest - they were murdered alongside the Ulma family
11.30 Markowa - Christian and Jewish prayer at the Ulma family grave
12.00 Markowa – Holy Mass in St Dorothy’s Church for the holy memory of Poles saving Jews and all victims of the World War II
12.30 Łańcut – Jewish prayer in the Synagogue in the intention of the Righteous Among the Nations
17.30 Markowa – The Opening Ceremony of The Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II
18.30 End of the official programme