Musical About Shoah Hero Scrapped at Treblinka

Some Felt Camp Wrong Place for Janusz Korczak Performance

By JTA

Published July 31, 2012.
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Excerpts of a musical based on the life of Janusz Korczak to be held at Treblinka will not take place as scheduled.

In light of a protest by Jan Karski Association, the regional governor withheld permission for the event.

In addition, the performance’s organizer – the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic – missed the deadline for the application, according to a spokesperson for the governor.

Roberto Skolmowski, director of Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic, had planned to stage the musical Aug. 5 in Treblinka. The date marks 70 years since Korczak was murdered in Treblinka. Korczak, who ran an orphanage for Jewish children, chose to accompany the youngsters when the Nazis sent them to the death camp.

While Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich supported the performance once the organizer said it would be held in the Treblinka parking lot rather than on a ramp to the camp, Bogdan Bialek, president of the Jan Karski Association, opposed it.

“This is a unique place that requires concentration, silence and prayer, not dancing and singing,” Bialek wrote in a letter to Gov. Jacek Kozlowski. “We believe that respect for Janusz Korczak and the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims who died a horrible death in the camp requires appropriate recognition, but a musical is not in our opinion the correct way. Agreeing to it would be shameful.”

Although Kozlowski’s spokesperson said the request was not considered because of the missed deadline, the governor, in a letter to the Karski Association, said, “I share part of your concern that the presentation of the musical could undermine the seriousness of this place.”

Approximately 850,000 people, 800,000 of them Jews, were murdered at Treblinka between 1942 and 1943.


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