Hundreds of people, including many journalists and foreign tourists, waited in long lines and filled the square outside the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened Sautrday for the first time.
The visitors weren’t disturbed by the fact that the $100 million museum’s permanent exhibition has not been installed yet; they came to see the building itself, which was designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamaki, and whose construction began in 2009. They also came to see a film about the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt hero Simcha Rotem, who on Friday was awarded the Grand Cross of the Polonia Restituta by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in the main ceremony marking the uprising’s 70th anniversary.
Many of the visitors sported one of the 50,000 yellow flowers handed out at the museum in recent days. “It’s not a yellow star, there was no yellow stars in the Warsaw Ghetto,” Nili Amit, an Israeli who is a coordinator at the museum, is at pains to stress. “It’s the symbol of the Warsaw Ghetto, and I for one am moved by it. The Warsavites wear it with pride,” she adds.
Hagay Cohen, an Israeli who lives in Warsaw and works for Polish National Radio, explains that the custom began when a Jewish woman gave the uprising’s commander, Marek Edelman, a yellow flower after he saved her child’s life. It will be months before the permanent exhibition will be ready for public viewing, and for now the museum’s most important exhibit is literally an underground secret.
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Hundreds Flock to Warsaw Museum on First Day