Skip To Content
Breaking News

Warsaw Jews Sue History Museum in Translation Spat

WARSAW, Poland – The Jewish Community of Warsaw is alleging that the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews allegedly violated its copyright on translations of historical texts.

According to information provided by the Museum, the community has called in a court filing to remove fragments of translations of historical texts from the Museum’s website, to pay the Warsaw Jewish community $7,500 and to issue a written apology.

Anna Chipczynska, president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw, believes that the creation of the museum limits the activity of Jewish communities in presenting historical events to visitors. In a December 2015 interview for “Plotkies,” the Polish language magazine of March ’68 immigrants, she said that “there is a great risk that in the future, focusing on this educational institution as a Polish visiting card to the world  will lead to the collapse of (Jewish) communities or to an international scandal.” In her opinion, the Polish authorities should focus more on the country’s cemeteries and synagogues.

Jakub Wozniak, head of the communications department of the Polin Museum, believes that the activities of the museum do not limit the activities of Jewish communities and the museum supports the communities, for example, with the Virtual Shtetl website and joint initiatives such as the “joint ticket to Jewish history” map of Jewish Warsaw. “We have very good relations and maintain regular contact with representatives of the Jewish community in Poland,” Wozniak told JTA.

The Jewish community’s lawsuit is about translations by Anna Cialowicz and Aleksandra Geller of four fragments of historical Yiddish articles published on the community’s website which were then posted on the website of the Museum.

The first call for an amicable agreement was submitted to the District Court for Warsaw-Srodmiescie on June 20, but the next day it was withdrawn by the Jewish community. On June 29, the Jewish community filed another request to the District Court for Warsaw-Wola.

Jakub Wozniak told JTA that the community demands the removal from the museum’s website of one article translated by Cialowicz and removal of three films published on the Museum’s YouTube channel where the museum used translations of three articles from the Jewish community’s website.

This is not the only lawsuit related to alleged copyright violation by the Polin Museum. On Oct. 14 in District Court in Warsaw, a lawsuit was initiated by Cialowicz, who works for the Jewish community in Warsaw, against the Polin Museum and Agora SA publisher for the book “Walking in Jewish Warsaw,” which Cialowicz alleges contains her translations of Yiddish articles and omits her name. The next hearing in this case is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2017.

Cialowicz is supported by right-wing group Solidarni2010, associated with the ruling Polish political party Law and Justice.

For Hanukkah this year, Polish Jewish organizations decided to organize separate events. Chabad Lubavitch joined by the Jewish Social-Cultural Association in Poland, or TSKŻ, and From the Depths is organizing a Hanukkah concert in the Polin Museum on Dec. 29. One day before, Chabad will hold, as it does every year, a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in the Polish parliament.

The Jewish community is planning to hold a Hanukkah Ball for its members and their families, but has not provided details due to security reasons.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.