Righteous Among the Nations Exhibit - March 4-22
On display at K-State Olathe, in cooperation with the K-State College of Education, K-State Libraries and the School of Leadership Studies.
The “Righteous Among the Nations” is an honorary decoration conferred by the State of Israel to honor non-Jews who saved Jewish men, women and children from extermination by the Nazis. The title is given to those who, in a world of absolute moral collapse, rose above simple courage and became heroes and defenders of humanity.
The exhibit consists of 2 museum-like displays and 20 easels with storyboard panels, including photos and text information. The exhibit is self-paced; printed materials will be available as additional resources.
The following information about the exhibit was provided by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago, who made the exhibit possible:
The exhibit is a tribute to some of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations: a group of seemingly ordinary men and women living in southern Poland who demonstrated extraordinary courage and risked their own lives, and the lives of their families, to help the Jews survive the Holocaust. Even though the subject matter of the exhibit is difficult, the message it carries is overwhelmingly positive: a belief in humanity and integrity of human beings at the time when human values were put to the most serious of tests.
The main purpose of the exhibit is to teach about altruism and rescue. The exhibit contains images and documents collected by the Institute of National Remembrance, a Polish state institution established to preserve the memory of the losses suffered by the Polish Nation during World War II.
At present more than 19,000 people worldwide have been honored by the Israel as the Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jewish lives from the Holocaust. Almost one-third of them--more than 6,300--were Polish citizens, the highest count of all nations of rescuers. It is important to remember that Poles were the only citizens of all nations in the German-occupied territory who, together with their families, were executed by the Nazi German military for sheltering or aiding Jews.
The author of the exhibit is the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. In the U.S., the exhibit is held under the patronage of the Polish Consulate General in Chicago. The exhibit educates not only about the Polish Righteous Among the Nations but also serves as a reminder about some of the most important facts about Poland and Poles during WWII, facts which, as time passes by tend to sink into oblivion.
Even though the Word War II ended in 1945, it is important to remember that Poland regained its full freedom and independence only in 1989 after Lech Walesa and Solidarity led the country to overthrow communist rule. Poland paved the way to the collapse of Communism in Europe: soon after the Poles defeated the regime at home, the Berlin Wall was torn down and the Soviet Union collapsed. So even if for half a century Poland was oppressed by the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian powers, the Poles managed to set off the democratic changes and now--after 23 years of independence--Poland is a modern, dynamic country with vibrant economy that was the only one in the European Union to avoid recession during the recent economic crisis and continues to grow at a pace unparalleled in other European countries.
Poland is also a member of NATO, the European Union and is a popular tourist destination. Because this giant leap forward was made within a fairly short time, many people are not aware of how much Poland changed over those 23 years. Therefore, it is the mission of the Polish Consulate General in Chicago to present the most important facts about Poland. Historical facts and Poland’s role in WWII are just a part of a larger process of encouraging people of different ages to know their facts about Poland.