Dariusz Bogusław “Darek” Popiela, 37, is a Polish slalom canoeist who has competed at the international level since 1999. He has decided to open a new square in Nowy Sącz in lower Poland, where he commemorates all the Jews of the city. The scale of this endeavor is huge, including 12 thousand of Jewish names and surnames, Fakt reported on Sunday.
Darek has already organized events to restore the memory of Jews who were murdered in extermination camps and elsewhere during World War II. Now, together with volunteers from a local group calling itself Sądecki Sztetl (Polish for shtetl), he decided to create a memorial square for the Jewish victims of extermination. It will be a unique place where visitors will be able to see with their own eyes the huge number of murdered Jews.
This square is located in the ghetto district. It will be dug deep underground, the idea being that everyone who visits this place should feel ill at ease, cramped, and anxious. On all sides, it will be surrounded by raw walls, with special plaques bearing the names and surnames of the exterminated, who were estimated to be about a third of the Sądecki region.
The unveiling is scheduled for August 28 – a special date for the people of Nowy Sącz. It was on August 28, 1942, exactly 80 years ago, that the last Jews of the city were transported to the death camps.
“For a long time, I was not aware that such dramatic scenes took place on the Dunajec River, where I have been training for years,” the canoe champion confessed. “These people were gathered there, full of fear, and sent to their deaths.”
Special guests from abroad are coming to the unveiling ceremony: the descendants of the murdered Jews who are flying in from all over the world: Australia, the US, Austria, Sweden, and Israel, as well as people from different parts of Poland.