• July 29, 2014
  • 374

Projects of the Association Odra-Niemen in the Šalčininkų region

Members and volunteers of the Association Odra-Niemen form Wrocław and Poznań, the Głogów Patriotic Association, the Association Traugutt from Gdańsk and members of the Association of Poles in Lithuania Vilnius Patriotic Youth led in July the renovation of cemeteries in villages Gumbie and Dubicze. Moreover, in the framework of the project “Save from oblivion” they catalogued collections of museums in Baltoji Vokė, Turgeliai, Tabariškės.

The headquarter of the Polish Home Army in Dubicze – the village in the area of Varėnos savivaldybė, on the edge of the Rudnicki Forest – was renewed due to the Association Odra-Niemen in the spring in 2014. In July, the finishing touches were added at the cemetery in Dubicze.

This time, most of the attention was directed to the small forest cemetery where the inhabitants of the Gumbi farm in Gerviškės parish (the Šalčininkų region) rest. They were murdered in April 1944 by soldiers of the German military units. It is not known precisely how many people rest at the cemetery, probably about 20. On the mass grave several headstones were set. At the request of the Local Government Association of the Šalčininkų region, the Association Odra-Niemen undertook the realization of the renovation project.

In the place of the destroyed headstones six smaller granite crosses and the large one were set. The cemetery was fenced. On Tuesday (the 23rd of July) at 15:00 the consecration of the renewed cemetery will take place. The crosses will be consecrated by the parish priest – Joseph Narkun.

The Association Odra-Niemen fulfills in the Šalčininkų region the big project “Save from oblivion”. The project is co-financed by the funds received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the framework of competition for the realization of the project “The Cooperation with the Poles and the Polish Community Abroad in 2014”. It is intended to transfer collections of museums in Šalčininkų region to the Internet and to create a virtual museum of Šalčininkų region.

Within two weeks, photographers, filmmakers, historians and a group of volunteers catalogued collections of four museums operating in the Šalčininkų region: the House of Memory of Anna Krepsztul in Tabariškės, the Ethnographic Museum in the P.L. Brzostowski High School in Turgeliai, the Ethnographic Museum in the Events Center in Baltoji Vokė and the private collection of Edward Kurkianiec, stored in the boiler room in Baltoji Vokė.

“Within two weeks, thirty people were digitizing these collections, that is, each exhibit was photographed, each document and photo was scanned. Historians were preparing descriptions. Four professional photographers and the whole team of volunteers were involved. There were also two filmmakers who perpetuated the relations associated with these museum collections. We have a lot of material. At the moment there are thousands of photos and scans. We are going with it to Wrocław: we should develop it, prepare the final form in which it will be shown. I think that we will show up here, in the Vilnius region, in October to demonstrate it to residents, authorities, ethnographers and the people who work in these museums every day, before it appears on the Internet,” said the project coordinate, vice president and secretary of the Association Odra-Niemen, Eugeniusz Gosiewski.

“The aim of this project is to encourage residents of Poland and Vilnius region to visit these museums, to see all collections and the Internet has to intrigue, to show the beauty and diversity of these exhibits,” said Eugeniusz Gosiewski.

During the realization of the Association Odra-Niemen projects, members and volunteers of this organization worked but, as Eugeniusz Gosiewski noted, colleagues from friendly organizations from Poland such as the Association Traugutt from Gdańsk and the Głogów Patriotic Association also were involved. “A large group of young people from Vilnius Association of Poles in Lithuania Vilnius Patriotic Youth worked on these projects, both at the cemetery and the museum project. I think that it must be emphasized because sometimes we hear such voices: Why do Polish people come here to renew cemeteries and locals cannot do that? The educational value of this is that we do it together, the youth from Vilnius is here and also the young people come from various Polish cities. They learn history together and they learn to care about the memorials. And it has the incredible value for us,” said Eugeniusz Gosiewski.

The Association Odra-Niemen has already ended work that was scheduled for this summer in the Šalčininkų region. “It would not be possible to do it all without the friendship, sympathy and help that we received from many people in Vilnius. Such a simple example: we ordered the wood for a fence in a sawmill and when the owner, Henryk Tomaszewicz, found out why we need it he gave it to us for free saying that it would be his small contribution. And this is fantastic,” said Eugeniusz Gosiewski.

Translated by Anna Piecha within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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