Magdalena Gross grew up amongst the Warsaw intelligentsia. She used to make clay statues already while at school, studied sculpture, hosted the first exhibition of her works in 1926 and later on became famous as an animalier. During the war, she adopted the name Gościmska and did not move into the Warsaw ghetto. But as an artist who could had been recognized. Fearing denunciation, she asked the Żabiński family for help. The zoo director and his family hid Magdalena in their villa. They called her “the Starling”.
You can discover Magdalena Gross’s and many more stories on the website managed by POLIN – Museum of the History of Polish Jews and dedicated to people who helped Jews during the Holocaust, risking their own lives and the lives of their families.
The online portal “Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History” started as a project by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland and presents stories, places, pictures and interviews collected by the Museum throughout the years, but also allows users to add their own stories to the project.
The second world war and the Holocaust are no easy subjects and need to be handled with sensitivity, which makes them less than obvious candidates for an online platform directed at a very wide audience.
But with specialist and project manager Klara Jackl, POLIN has managed to expand the project way beyond its traditional exhibition that travels the world. Indeed, as she will show during her WAM17 workshop entitled Testimony, object, story: online projects as tools in civic and history education, the project has achieved to strike a balance between historical content, simplicity of the form and attractiveness of the message.
Considering that an online platform allows a different experience than a physical exhibition, Klara Jackl has chosen to make the most of it by creating online exhibitions, themed galleries, but also include educational resources. As for the stories themselves, they can be explored through different entry points: by names of the Righteous, names of the saved families and locations. Each story comes with context that does not distract the user from reading its core but provides powerful pictures, additional sources and bibliography, information about relationships between people. The website also highlights news and current events – and gives the opportunity to explore Poland by walking in the footsteps of the Righteous, showing the part of History they are focusing on is still relevant.
The platform really brings the Righteous and the Jews they saved a bit closer to the visitors by still creating a universe in which people who still haven’t shared their story feel safe to do so because it will be shared in a respectful way.
Register for WAM17 and attend Klara’s workshop, during which she will give you her best advice to create powerful experiences around History in a sensitive but impactful way that convey important messages.