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Virtual Shtetl Portal


The Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews is proud to announce the launching of the Virtual Shtetl website, which is devoted to the local history of Jews. Although at the moment of its launch the portal is primarily a source of information, its future is based on the interaction of web surfers using Web 2.0 technology. The medium created will constitute a bridge between the history of Polish Jewish towns and the contemporary, multicultural world.

 

The Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews has been creating this modern tool at a time when the construction of the museum building is just beginning. The Virtual Shtetl is a museum without walls, a logical consequence of the initiative to build the museum, providing a unique social forum for all those interested in Polish Jewish life.

 

The Virtual Shtetl depicts the history of Polish Jews, which in great part was created in small towns (Yiddish: shtetl). On the portal one can find information pertaining to the past but also to the present, to little towns, as well as large cities. It presents both contemporary and Pre-War Poland.

 

The English version eventually will enable Polish Jews and their descendants scattered all over the world to use the Virtual Shtetl Portal.  A full picture of Polish-Jewish history and relations has been and will be presented thanks to the effort of many institutions, organizations and individuals.

 

 “The Virtual Shtetl is not a place, but rather the community by which it is created,” said one of the site developers. “Let us take pictures and look for the relics of the past, let us listen to accounts. Let us exchange information and encourage one another to take up initiatives. Let us get to know one another and act.”

 

In the future it will be possible for everybody to add pictures, movies and other material to the website that will be available to be viewed by other visitors to the site. A team from the museum will verify all added material, before it is posted, to ensure the site’s integrity.

 

The Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews, which built the Virtual Shtetl is very excited by the launch of the website. Right now it is filled with material gathered by people in Poland and they recognize the fact that Jews from all over the world have been visiting their home shtetlach for many years and often have unique perspectives on the many sites. The museum is looking forward to any and all material from people around the world.

 

The site is much more than a photo gallery of Jewish sites in Poland. The English home page of the site, http://www.sztetl.org.pl/?cid=15&lang=en_GB has a section for news around Jewish Poland, links to other websites, maps and much more. The typical shtetl web page is filled with information. There is a map with coordinates, addresses of Jewish sites in the town, alternate names of the shtetl, artifacts, contact information and history of the community. 

 

Over the years I myself have taken thousands of pictures in 55 different locations throughout Poland and many of my pictures will soon be added to the site.

 

Many people worked hard for many years to bring the Virtual Shtetl to light.

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The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

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Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

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