Daemen Students Assist in Restoration of 200 year old Jewish cemetery during trip to Poland

Group Members Experience vast amount of History, including visits to Oskar Schindler Factory Museum in Krakow, and Auschwitz-Birkenau



August 6, 2013



Contact:  Mike Andrei

                 Director-College Relations

                 (716) 839-8472



           Led by Daemen College Associate Professor of History Dr. Andrew Wise, five Daemen students travelled to Poland this summer to take part in a new exchange program between Daemen and East European State Higher School in Przemyśl (PWSW).  


           A key focus of the program was to perform service learning work in the preservation and documentation of the two century old Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl. 


           The program included classroom lectures by faculty from the East European State Higher School in Przemyśl (PWSW) and Jagiellonian University (Kraków).  The students also experienced history firsthand through visits to historic sites in Warszawa, Kraków, Przemyśl, Leżajsk, Lublin and Lwów/Lviv (in Ukraine). 


           “Exchange programs are important because they connect students to the broader world,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. 


            “The service learning project performed by Daemen students during their time in Poland focused on the legacy of World War II and the importance of promoting reconciliation between ethnic and religious groups, a concept that remains vital in our world today.”  


           Earlier this year, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded Daemen and the East European State Higher School in Przemyśl (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Wschodnioeuropejska w Przemyślu, or PWSW) a grant of $15,000. The prestigious grant, "Multicultural Poland: The Coexistence of Polish and Jewish Cultures in the 20th Century," helped fund the summer program, which took place in July.


           The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, and the emotionally stirring exhibition "Krakow under Nazi Occupation: 1939-1945," located at the site of Oskar Schindler’s factory, are all among the historic landmarks experienced by the group of Daemen students and faculty during their month-long study trip to Poland. 


           Coursework in Przemysl focused on the theme of Polish-Jewish relations in the twentieth century. 


           “We learned that during World War II many Poles organized an underground resistance, or Home Army, in order to fight against the German occupation,” said Daemen student Elizabeth White.

                  “It is important to remember that men were not the only members of society fighting for freedom," she added.


           "Upon visiting the Warsaw Uprising Museum, I realized that a substantial number of women throughout the entire country assisted men in defending Poland during the war in a wide variety of ways, including fighting in the underground resistance, providing medical and spiritual aid for members of the Home Army, and rescuing Jews from the ghettos.” 


           The cemetery restoration work was conducted under the supervision of Dr. John Hartman, whose Remembrance and Reconciliation Foundation, Inc. has provided funding for additional recent maintenance and repair of the site. Initially focused on security and reclamation, the Foundation’s efforts have restored the cemetery’s many deteriorating stones and markers, including re-dedication of the Shoah mass grave monument.


           The Daemen students were also joined for one week by Daemen Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Joseph Sankoh, who conducted research into refugees in Poland and also presented service learning workshops for PWSW faculty.  


           For much more in-depth information on the trip visit the Daemen College History & Political Science Department blog: http://daemencollegehistoryandpolisci.blogspot.com/


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