Perspectives on the contemporary discussion about the city's German-Jewish past

A project initiated by Yvonne Meyer and further developed by Bernd Vogenbeck

Host organization: Foundation Borussia

2006 to 2011, Olsztyn (Poland)

For many years Borussia has been working on the preservation of the former Jewish house of purification, Bet Tahara, built between 1911 and 1913 by Erich Mendelsohn. The site became relevant again in the minds of the inhabitants of the city and region by taking on a new function: The center for intercultural dialogue is now a space for meetings and collective creative work between people of different nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and world views.

In the MENDELSOHN SALON the Stiftung Borussia created an innovative format that took place in various places throughout the city until the completion of the MENDELSOHN HAUS. In this way, programs could take place while the cultural center was being constructed.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, significant efforts have been made in Warmia and Masuria to rediscover forgotten, diverse cultural landscapes and find new ways to approach the material heritage of the past. In this context, an understanding and discussion of Jewish history developed quite slowly. Borussia's cultural program is specifically dedicated to these issues through the MENDELSOHN SALON, which has generated great interest. Today, events like the days of Jewish culture have become very popular.

The focus of interest of the series of programs MENDELSOHN SALON is the city's German-Jewish past (before 1945) and the ways in which this is remembered by later generations. Particular attention is given to the German-Polish context. The goal was not only to present German art and cultural projects in Olsztyn, but also to discuss them with Polish artists, researchers, and theorists. Thus in addition to a broad spectrum of perspectives, the public is also offered the opportunity to actively engage. The series gives them a chance to connect with artists, researchers, architects, and journalists who provide lasting support to the MENDELSOHN HAUS Center for Intercultural Dialog. A wealth of material regarding Erich Mendelsohn and Olsztyn's Jewish history was re-worked and translated into Polish or German for the first time.

The series is now conducted in the newly opened MENDELSOHN HAUS Center for Intercultural Dialog.

With support from: various cultural institutions and organizations in Olsztyn and the surrounding region, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Generalkonsulat der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Danzig, Goethe-Institut Warsaw, Olsztyn City Administration, among others

Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Photos: Jacek Sztorc, WK Borussia.