25 March 2009

The Bagnowka Project: Photos, videos, maps

Here's a look at pre-Holocaust towns in a video created by Tomek Wisniewski from historic footage and photos taken in Eastern European towns and shtetls. His The Bagnowka Project website offers extensive Polish Jewish cemetery information and additional useful links, old pre-war Polish and Eastern European maps.

Thank you to Reeva Kimble of Eugene, Oregon for this pointer to the video and the website.

Among the maps, I found a 1915 view of Suchostaw my maternal grandfather's shtetl, Suchostaw, which has been part of Galicia, Poland, Russia and is now in Ukraine.

The Project has its own YouTube channel with some 25 current videos. I viewed one for the forgotten town of Orla, which Wisniewski says does not appear on any tourist map. Its magnificent synagogue is still standing, unused and ignored, although some preservation work was undertaken in the 1980s. View it here.

The website currently includes 60,000 images and videos from Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, with galleries on history, culture, cemeteries, synagogues, wooden architecture and more. Users are invited to submit photographs, videos and other information to assist all researchers.

The Bagnowka Project has been set up by a group of historians, linguists, journalists, naturalists and guides, united by a common interest in the history of Poland and the eastern borderlands, and their cultural and ethnic legacy.

Our members include authors, collectors of old photographs and maps, professors of diverse languages, specialists in archival work and genealogy, and people responsible for mounting exhibitions and creating internet sites dealing with these matters.

It is our sincere wish that the passion we share in preserving and disseminating the resources gathered here will inspire our audience to recognize that both the richness and harshness experienced by the varied cultures of Poland must be preserved in order to understand the present and move toward a more peaceful and tolerant future.

This wish again is reflected in the symbol of our project - Bagnówka, three distinct religious cemeteries that today adjoin peacefully in northeastern Poland.
Thank you to Reeva Kimble of Portland, Oregon, for this head's-up.

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