The wall draws the attention with its design, Source: POLIN Jewish History Museum

One-way mirror wall commemorates Warsaw Ghetto uprising anniversary

One-way mirror wall commemorates Warsaw Ghetto uprising anniversary

It draws the attention of passersby to reflect on the meaning of separation, isolation and discrimination

The Warsaw Jewish ghetto was the largest that existed in lands controlled by Nazi Germany. In effect, it was a large prison of sorts, and it was also the site of the most famous resistance effort by the oppressed Jewish people during World War II – the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.

This year, the city authorities have organized a variety of events to commemorate the 80th anniversary of that event. As part of this program, residents and guests to the Polish capital might have noticed a strange wall standing on the corner of Grzybowska and Żelazna Streets.

It consists of a black one-way mirror. The wall section stands on the line where an actual, and much larger, wall was built in 1940 to turn the ghetto into an isolated and segregated district.

If you stand on the “Aryan” side of the wall, you can see through the glass, however, if you stand on the side of what used to be the ghetto interior you can only see a reflection of yourself.

Art revives the historical trauma

The artistic installation thus aims to make the observer reflect on the nature of isolation and segregation and on the feeling of being a second-class citizen. It was erected on 6 September by POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi.

The symbolic wall also bears a graffiti sign that says: “Around us a sea of fire”, which is also the name of an exhibition telling the personal stories of people during the uprising. You can see it at the museum.

At the same spot, on the boundary of the former ghetto, you can also listen to a podcast titled "As If the Earth Has Swallowed Us Up" by journalist and writer Katarzyna Kobylarczyk. The podcast, based on the diaries of people who remained in hiding during the Uprising, is a moving literary reportage made of six episodes.

The uprising ended tragically with thousands of Jews killed and tens of thousands deported to extermination camps. The exhibition will be open for viewing until 8 January 2024.



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