We recently wrote about the activities of Dariusz Popiela, aimed at preserving the memory of the Jews of the Małopolskie Province. They are organised through his Popiela Family Foundation “Centrum” as part of the “Ludzie, nie liczby” (“People, Not Numbers”) project, which Dariusz Popiela co-founded with Anna Boruch, Joanna Kurczap, Aneta Święź, Kamila Popiela and Kamil Kmak.
The beginning of the “Ludzie, nie liczby” initiative was to clean up the Jewish cemetery in Krościenko nad Dunajec and to erect a monument in memory of the Jewish residents. The Foundation then turned its attention to Grybów. Like in Krościenko, they faced the problem of a forgotten Jewish cemetery which required restoration and appropriate commemoration.
The ceremonial event of the project took place on 3rd November 2019. What was achieved? By far, the greatest achievement was the restoration of the memory of 1,774 murdered prisoners of the Grybów ghetto. Their names were engraved on a “Matzevah of Remembrance” memorial, erected within the cemetery, and also read out during the ceremony. The stone slab also contained a quotation from the Book of Job:
Oh ground, do not hide my blood, lest my crying should cease.
The path to two mass graves, from the time of German occupation during World War II, was found during the clearing works. It has now also been clearly marked. Educational boards which inform about the history of Grybów Jews have been installed near the entrance and also inside the cemetery.
Guests at the memorial ceremony included Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, German Consul-General in Kraków Dr Michael Grob, representatives of the Jewish community, families of victims, residents of Grybów, city councillors and representatives of the Church. Jewish and Catholic prayers for the deceased were recited. Rabin Schudrich, in expressing his approval for such activities, said:
We have the best people in the world here with the titles of “Righteous Among the Nations” – people who saved Jews during the War. Today, thank God, we live in different times and such heroes are no longer needed. But heroes are still needed. As I see all those who helped build matzevot in Grybów and Krościenko, this is a continuation of the spirit of the Righteous.
We encourage you to visit the Polish Righteous website to learn more about the stories of Poles who helped Jews during World War II.