In 2019, in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, we came to the conclusion that our staff needed to strengthen their ability to conduct dialogues with visitors. This particularly related to the many visitors, who came to the Museum’s Resource Center, asking numerous questions about the history of Polish Jews, the history of the Second World War in Europe and Polish-Jewish dialogue. Due to the importance and complexity of these historical events, we were often confronted with our visitors’ emotional reactions.

A communication model, which was developed in the 1960s, came to our aid - Nonviolent Communication (NVC) - came to our aid. This model was developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a psychologist and social activist.

To the project, which was created in March 2020 and entitled “A Model for Empathetic Communication in Adult Education in History Museums and Memorial Sites”, we invited partners who were also facing similar challenges in their professional practices: the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia, the Mémorial de la Shoah in France, and the Žanis Lipke Memorial in Latvia.

Unfortunately, in March 2020, the world was swept by the COVID-19 pandemic. The most important recommendations, by health ministries, was isolation from other people. Hundreds of people were dying in hospitals.

At that time, cultural institutions found themselves in dramatic financial situations. Using online activities, they endeavoured to raise their society’s spirits. Our partner meeting were also carried out online.

In February 2022, we departed Paris, ending our first face-to-face meeting, which included some heated discussion on just how useful the NVC model would be in institutional practice. 

At that same time, war broke out in Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s attack on an independent country in Europe, eighty years after the outbreak of the Second World War, and the earlier pandemic fearful experience for one’s own health and lifestyle, permanently changed our lives.

Under such difficult circumstances, as museologists, we needed to question ourselves regarding the sense of our actions, as well  as to carefully listen to our emotions and needs. Marshall Rosenberg’s concept, emanating from the belief that dialogue between people can serve to build societies, based on empathy and on taking into account other people’s needs, turned out to be extremely useful, even invaluable.  

The NVC model facilitates the conscious choice of words when expressing our feelings – towards ourselves and others. It encourages us to reflect on our own interpretations of reality and aids us when opening up to others.

In summary, it increases the chances for mutual understanding and peace.

In the final publication of our project, various staff members of museums and memorial sites share their experiences when using the NVC model: educators, knowledge centre staff, guides, museum collections curators, database managers, staff working with witnesses to history and institution managers and directors. Many of these people often perform different roles in their activities.

They describe their successes and failures in interpersonal contacts. Each of the described situations takes into account the nature of the context within each person works and includes a short biography of the author. These texts are preceded by a methodological introduction developed by certified NVC trainer, Magdalena Malinowska-Berggren.

We would like our compendium to serve the staff of historical museums and memorial sites. It is intended to be used as a practical support in their contact with visitors – mainly, with adult visitors, who have a fully formed knowledge of life, history and beliefs – above all, when those contacts concern the subject of the Holocaust of European Jews in the 20th century.  In order to reach the widest possible audience, we publish our work in five languages, Polish, French, Latvian, Macedonian and English.

We believe that our publication with be helpful and that it will strengthen your communication skills, that it will provide you with hope in moments of doubt and that it may even be a sensational revelation.

The results of our work are available at Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe:




The Project is co-funded by the European Commission as part of the Erasmus+ ProgrammeThis publication was prepared with the financial support of the European Commission. It reflects only the views of its authors. The European Commission and the National Agency of the Erasmus+ Programme are not responsible for its substantive content.


More about our project:

Paris. Nonviolent Communication Approach in Adult Education in Historical Museums and Memorial Sites – International Project of the POLIN Museum

Riga. Empathetic communication in adult education: the meeting of Erasmus+ project partners in Žanis Lipke Memorial in Riga

Skopje. Empathetic Communication and the Conflicting Narratives of World War II and Holocaust History

Warsaw. Final seminar within the project “Nonviolent Communication Approach in Adult Education in Historical Museums and Memorial Sites”