ASW Student Launches Memory Defenders Project in Warsaw

By Jaewon Shin

Two particularly devastating events in European history are the World Wars, with the second of the two being widely acknowledged as one of the most devastating and destructive conflicts in human history. Among the atrocities committed during this period was the Holocaust, characterized by the systematic extermination of Jewish individuals by the Nazis.

In order to preserve the memory of this event and the experiences of those affected, ASW student Jonah R., who I had the opportunity to interview, has launched the Memory Defenders project in Warsaw. 

What is your project about and what do you do?

I am the founder of the memory defenders group. It’s a group that’s focused on keeping the Jewish memory alive. Our main objective is to improve the state that the Jewish cemeteries in the area of Warsaw are kept in, meaning that we clean and teach the Polish population about the historic and religious significance of this place (We started teaching about the cemetery through the usage of creating youtube videos.) This will result in more interest from the local Polish population regarding the Jewish cemetery.

What motivates and inspired you to start this project?

I have always felt the sadness of the Holocaust. In the past there used to be around 3.5 million Jews living in Poland, nowadays there are 10 000. It’s a sad but true fact; the low number of people is the main issue.

Image courtesy of Defenders of Memory facebook group

Why do we need to pay attention to your project?

It will affect the state of the Jewish cemeteries that are present in the Warsaw metropolitan area today and may even affect the number of antisemitic views with the result of decreasing them. Through this project, you can learn greater value from the past and provide minimal help for Jewish victims of wrongful deaths.

What is your ultimate goal in the short term and long term?

My short term goal is having regular trips to the Polish Jewish cemeteries in and around the city of Warsaw. Around  5 Jewish cemeteries have pretty regular trips.

Long term goals have a lot of high hopes attached to them. For example I wish that trips from countries such as the US, Israel and Poland cooperate together and break barriers between each other. That would reinforce a greater push for mutual acceptance and tolerance.(Jewish and non Jewish communities understanding each other). The higher number of tourists coming to those cemeteries would result in a larger amount of funds that would positively benefit the cemeteries in future projects regarding the reparations of those locations.

Image courtesy of Defenders of Memory facebook group

What are you struggling with in running this project?

The only limitation is time. The fact is that in the life of an IB student time is one of the most valuable assets in their time as a high schooler. It is not a deal breaker for me, the key idea that is used to deal with this issue is time management.

How can we involve and support your project?

Yes, of course you can help and support my project. I highly encourage all of the ASW students to follow my Facebook page (Defenders of Memory) and Youtube channel (Memory Defenders). You can check out my posting and progression through those platforms. Your continued interest and attention helps me lead this project.

As the interview progressed, it became apparent to me that Jonah possessed a strong sense of enthusiasm and dedication towards his endeavor. People who wish to support his project may do so through platforms mentioned above. Additionally, those who may have an interest in the proposed plans or wish to participate in the project can contact Jonah at 23rosen_j@aswarsaw.org.

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