Oświęcim

  • Oświęcim

    Oświęcim is an 800-year old town situated on the Soła River near the border of Silesia and Malopolska regions. At present, it has a population of 40 thousand citizens. In the years 1940-1945 the largest German concentration camp consisting of three parts was located within the grounds of Oświęcim and its surrounding area: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz III-Monowitz, and forty sub-camps.

    Oświęcim

    Oświęcim is an 800-year old town situated on the Soła River near the border of Silesia and Malopolska regions. At present, it has a population of 40 thousand citizens. In the years 1940-1945 the largest German concentration camp consisting of three parts was located within the grounds of Oświęcim and its surrounding area: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz III-Monowitz, and forty sub-camps.

  • Writers in Auschwitz

    Many writers were held captive in Auschwitz. Élie Wiesel, winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, described his experience form the perspective of a boy in Night (1958). Imre Kertész (Nobel Prize in literature winner in 2002) became famous as the author of “trilogy of fateless people”. A character from his other novel, Felszámolás [Liquidation] (2002) visits the present museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau: “I could hardly stand the hubbub of voices in the bus. Finally, we arrived in our destination and entered a hall which resembled the ticket office of a large swimming pool. There was a lot of leaflets in all languages of the world all around. Information on group discounts and so on. Behind the back glass wall, grey brick barracks loomed like a promise. People crowded in narrow alleys. Women, men, children.”

    Writers in Auschwitz

    Many writers were held captive in Auschwitz. Élie Wiesel, winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, described his experience form the perspective of a boy in Night (1958). Imre Kertész (Nobel Prize in literature winner in 2002) became famous as the author of “trilogy of fateless people”. A character from his other novel, Felszámolás [Liquidation] (2002) visits the present museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau: “I could hardly stand the hubbub of voices in the bus. Finally, we arrived in our destination and entered a hall which resembled the ticket office of a large swimming pool. There was a lot of leaflets in all languages of the world all around. Information on group discounts and so on. Behind the back glass wall, grey brick barracks loomed like a promise. People crowded in narrow alleys. Women, men, children.”

    It is impossible to mention all prisoners of Auschwitz who survived the war and whose tragedy was reflected in their literary activity. They include female writers: Charlotte Delbo (1913-1985), Halina Birenbaum (born 1929), Zofia Posmysz (born 1923), Batsheva Dagan (born 1925) and Zofia Kossak-Szczucka (1889-1968).

    From Polish artists, the following must be enumerated: Tadeusz Borowski (1922-1951) – the author of short story collections, Pożegnanie z Marią [Farewell to Maria] (published in English under the title This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen) and Kamienny świat [World of Stone] (1948) and Tadeusz Hołuj (1916-1985) – prose writer, poet and playwright. [ezp].

  • The Avenue of the Writers in Oświęcim

    Thanks to the Avenue of the Writers project which is carried out by THE BOOK CENTRE Municipal Public Library, Oświęcim can gain fame in Poland as a city promoting the works of the best contemporary writers.

    The Avenue of the Writers in Oświęcim

    The Avenue of the Writers in Oświęcim

    The idea of the Avenue of the Writers in Oświęcim refers to Avenue of the Stars that are popular around the world; however, in contrast to idols of mass media culture, the art of highest cultural value – the art of the word is promoted here. The greatness of the writer is not reduced to short-term flashes in the temporary reality – their work remain in the memory of readers, societies and nations for a long time and books written by them stand on library shelves and offer spiritual nourishment to readers for many generations or sometimes even centuries. As any other artists, or perhaps to an even larger extent, the writer also deserves to be commemorated in the literal material sense in the form of permanent signs engraved in stone. The alley will emphasise not only the writer's work, but the writer himself as the author. The work often remains deeper in the reader's awareness and memory, whereas the author himself vanishes and fades away in the transient memory.

    The aim of the project is also to expand the symbolism of Oświęcim – a Peace Messenger City with valuable cultural, humanitarian and peaceful contents in the eyes of the national and world community. The originators of the Avenue want to balance the relationship between the past, present and future in such a way that Oświęcim is no longer associated only with the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Let the word Oświęcim evoke not only negative associations; on the contrary, it can also become a synonym of life, progress, development and openness in public awareness.

    Through q Resolution of the City Council, the promenade between ul. Dąbrowskiego and the northern entrance to the Book Centre was called the Avenue of the Writers – the place where bronze slabs will be embedded. The Avenue of the Writers is to commemorate great living writers, who will personally take part in the unveiling ceremony of the memorial plaque decorated with their autograph and a selected quotation from their works in the Avenue of the Writers. Their arrival in Oświęcim will also be a celebration for all people who particularly treasure the value of the written word.

    The final decision on the selection of the author is taken by the Jury consisting of: Professor. Joanna Papuzińska – research worker of the University of Warsaw, poet, writer, journalist, teacher, historian, critic and researcher of literature for children and young people, Dr Michał Rusinek – former Secretary of Wisława Szymborska, currently the President of the Wisława Szymborska Foundation, Professor Krzysztof Zajas – research worker of the Faculty of Polish Studies of Jagiellonian University, Janusz Chwierut – Mayor of Oświęcim and Leszek Palus – Director of the BOOK CENTRE Library in Oświęcim. The preliminary assumption of the project is to embed around 30 bronze plaques in the Avenue of the Writers – at least one plaque a year.

    As the members of the jury had discussed this idea many times before its formation, they jointly agreed that the first writer to be commemorated in the Avenue of the Writers would be Andrzej Stasiuk. This unique writer, poet and dramatist is presumably known to all literary critics around the world. He wrote books such as: The Wall Of Hebron, Dukla, Tales of Galicia, Nine, Travelling to Babadag, Taksim, A Diary Being Written Later and others. He has won several awards, including: the recent International Literary Award Vilenica 2008, the Literary Award Gdynia 2010, the Stanisław Vincenz “New Culture of New Europe” Award of the Economic Forum and the City of Krakow 2011 and the Annual Award of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage 2011 in Literature.

    The first memorial plaque that was unveiled on the 26th of October 2012 was dedicated to Andrzej Stasiuk. The quotation put on the plaque was taken from the novel Travelling to Babadag: 'The same goes for all other places; they become subject to wear because of presence'; apart from this, the plaque contains also the writer's autograph. In a way, this quotation refers to the BOOK CENTRE Library itself; as a generally accessible public place, it is also subject to wear due to the presence of users. The unveiling ceremony was immediately followed by a meeting with the participation of Andrzej Stasiuk which was moderated by Professors Jarosław Fazan and Krzysztof Zajas from Jagiellonian University.

    The Avenue of the Writers is probably the only project in Poland that promotes the idea to preserve the memory of literary persons, and, according to the organisers' intentions, meetings with writers are to become artistic events due to which the City of Oświęcim would become an initiator of future-building activities. New but already prestigious Avenue of the Writers will constitute another artistic form of the existence of this city.

    The Avenue of the Writers in OświęcimThe Avenue of the Writers in OświęcimThe Avenue of the Writers in OświęcimThe Avenue of the Writers in OświęcimThe Avenue of the Writers in Oświęcim

    The Alley of Writers near the BOOK GALLERY Library in Oświęcim was enriched with the second bronze plaque. On the 26th of May 2013, Polish writer Marek Bieńczyk officially unveiled a plaque dedicated to him.

    Apart from writing books, Marek Bieńczyk works as a historian of literature in the Institute of Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences and lectures at the Literary & Artistic Study Centre at Jagiellonian University. He specialises in Polish Romanticism and contemporary French humanities, and he is a wine connoisseur and a co-author of the first Polish oenological guide Wines of Europe. Marek Bieńczyk is also a columnist for Gazeta Wyborcza, Przekrój and the Forbes monthly. In 2012 he became the Laureate of the Nike Literary Award for his collection of essays Książka twarzy [The Book of Faces]. These literary achievements justified the dedication of a commemorative plaque to Marek Bieńczyk in the Alley of Writers in Oświęcim. ‘Somewhere from below my eyelid, from sources of the river to the world, words came.’ These words from Bieńczyk’s book Tworki are inscribed on the plaque.

    Marek Bieńczyk is the second writer who has agreed to the embedment of a plaque with his name and a quotation from his book. Apart from members of the Jury of the Alley of Writers, the unveiling ceremony was attended by Andrzej Stasiuk, who had inaugurated the opening of the Alley near the Library last year.

    Immediately after the unveiling of the plaque and the meeting with journalists, a meeting with Marek Bieńczyk moderated by Andrzej Stasiuk took place. The audience could listen with bated breath to a creative exchange of opinions on art, literature and other matters.

    The alley in front of the Oświęcim library is aimed at commemorating outstanding living writers and providing adequate recognition of the art of highest cultural value – the art of word. This autumn another writer will be honoured, and the entire project of the Alley of Writers assumes the embedment of around 30 plaques in the pavement leading to the library.

     

    The second plaque unveiled in the Alley of Writers near the BOOK GALLERY LibraryThe second plaque unveiled in the Alley of Writers near the BOOK GALLERY LibraryThe second plaque unveiled in the Alley of Writers near the BOOK GALLERY LibraryThe second plaque unveiled in the Alley of Writers near the BOOK GALLERY LibraryThe second plaque unveiled in the Alley of Writers near the BOOK GALLERY Library

  • The Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary Award

    The Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary Award was established in 1994 for a book issued in 1993 by the Książka dla Dziecka (Book for the Child) Foundation and the editorial staff of Guliwer, a magazine devoted to children’s books. The award was established as a tribute to the excellent Polish author of books for children and youth, which are characterised by a sense of humour and strong faith in the supremacy of good. It is granted every year to a living Polish author for a literary book addressed to younger children that bears similar characteristics and was published for the first time in the year preceding the successive edition of the award.

    The Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary Award

    The Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary Award

    The Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary Award was established in 1994 for a book issued in 1993 by the Książka dla Dziecka (Book for the Child) Foundation and the editorial staff of Guliwer, a magazine devoted to children’s books. The award was established as a tribute to the excellent Polish author of books for children and youth, which are characterised by a sense of humour and strong faith in the supremacy of good. It is granted every year to a living Polish author for a literary book addressed to younger children that bears similar characteristics and was published for the first time in the year preceding the successive edition of the award.

    Since 2004 the organiser of the award has been the Oświęcim Library. Books can be proposed by publishers, readers as well as libraries and other interested institutions.

    The book to which the award is given, is selected by a jury of outstanding researchers, experts in children’s literature and librarians: Professor Joanna Papuzińska, dr Anna Maria Krajewska, dr Grażyna Lewandowicz-Nosal, dr Małgorzata Chrobak, Jerzy Kumiega, MA, Ewa Świerżewska, MA, Aneta Satława, MAand Stanisława Niedziela, MA.

    The project is aimed at promoting children’s books, not only among the youngest readers. The stimulation of activity among adults, including authors, publishers, educators, parents and guardians, is the basis for the stimulation of reading needs among the youngest generation. Under the Kornel Makuszyński Literary Award project, the Library popularises the idea of the Award, the patron of the Award and his works and books proposed, nominated and awarded in the given year in various ways. The culmination of year-round activities is the official award gala.

    During the gala, laureates receive a bronze statuette of Matołek the Billy-Goat made by outstanding sculptor Andrzej Renes, the creator of the monument to Kornel Makuszyński with Matołek the Billy-Goat that stands in Zakopane in front of the Opolanka villa, where the Makuszyński Museum is located.

    Literary and dance games and fairy-tale riddles with the participation of fairies, as well as visual arts competitions, face-painting, balloon dandelions, big soap bubbles and a meeting with Matołek the Billy-Goat are only some of the attractions that will accompany this event. The event will also be flavoured by a performance of the puppet theatre functioning in the library, which was officially named Rozwesołek by Professor Joanna Papuzińska. After the awarding of the statuette of Matołek, the audience participates in meetings with the writer who has received the award.

    In one of the interviews, Joanna Papuzińska said: ‘We have established the Kornel Makuszyński Literary Award so that the names of the best contemporary Polish authors of children’s books are known to everyone and do not fade into oblivion among the heaps of coloured Disney’s books’.

    It is worth pointing out that the Literary Award is not only the day on which it is granted, but also entire whole year of diverse educational activities. During the last edition of the award, children participated in numerous literary mornings, and even a comic strip New Adventures of Matołek the Billy-Goat in the BOOK GALLERY was created during one of additional visual arts and writing workshops.

    The Literary Award is not only an important event for our Library. It is also a part of the promotion of the City of Oświęcim on a supra-local scale and the strengthening of the position of the Oświęcim Library – the Book Gallery as an organiser of the Polish Nationwide Literary Competition promoting Polish literature and Polish authors. Under the Polish National Literary Award project, educational activities for adults are also carried out. On the day preceding the official award gala, academic & literary sessions for librarians and teachers often take place.

    The organisation of the Kornel Makuszyński Polish National Literary Award has been accepted and co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for the last few years.

    The Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary AwardThe Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary AwardThe Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary AwardThe Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary AwardThe Kornel Makuszyński Polish Nationwide Literary Award

    Laureates of the Kornel Makuszyński Literary Award:

    1994 Piotr Wojciechowski Bajki żółtego psa [Tales of a Yellow Dog], Stentor
    1995 Joanna Olech Dynastia Miziołków [The Dynasty of Miziołki], Egmont
    1996 Jerzy Niemczuk Przygody Zuzanki [The Adventures of Zuzanka], Papirus
    1997 Anna Onichimowska Dobry potwór nie jest zły [A Good Monster Is Not Bad], Podsiedlik-Raniowski i S-ka
    1998 Tomasz Trojanowski Kocie historie [Cat’s Stories], Philip Wilson
    1999 Dorota Gellner Dorota Gellner dzieciom [Dorota Gellner To Children], KAMA
    2000 Anna Lewkowska Dziwne przygody czarnoksiężnika Zenona [Strange Adventures of Zenon the Wizard], Prószyński i S-ka
    2001 Marta Tomaszewska Tego lata w Burbelkowie [This Summer in Burbelkowo], Nasza Księgarnia
    2002 Grzegorz Kasdepke Kacperiada, Literatura
    2003 Małgorzata Strzałkowska „Wiersze, że aż strach!” [„Scary Poems”], Media Rodzina
    2004 Małgorzata Strękowska–Zaremba Abecelki i duch Bursztynowego Domu [Abecelkis and the Spirit of the Amber House], Pracownia Pedagogiczna i Wydawnicza
    2005 Agnieszka Tyszka Róże w garażu [Roses in the Garage], Literatura
    2006 Beata Wróblewska Małgosia z Leśnej Podkowy [Małgosia from Leśna Podkowa], Egmont
    2007 Katarzyna Majgier Amelka, Egmont
    2008 Paweł Beręsewicz Ciumkowe historie, w tym jedna smutna [Ciumkowie’s Stories, Including One Sad Story], Skrzat
    2008 Joanna Papuzińska - Super Goat as a lifetime achievement award
    2009 Roksana Jędrzejewska-Wróbel, Florka. Z pamiętnika ryjówki [Florka. From a Pygmy Shrew’s Diary] and Florka. Listy do Józefiny [Florka. Letters to Józefina], Literatura
    2010 Barbara Gawryluk Zuzanka z pistacjowego domu [Zuzanka from the Pistachio House], Literatura
    2011 Paweł Beręsewicz Tajemnica człowieka z blizną [The Secret of a Man with a Scar], Literatura
    2012 Renata Piątkowska, Wieloryb [The Whale], Literatura

  • Breakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    Breakdowns of Literature is a new project being implemented together with the Faculty of Polish Studies of Jagiellonian University through the Book Centre in Oświęcim. Discussions about literature will last no longer than three quarters of an hour.

    Breakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    Breakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    Breakdowns of Literature is a new project being implemented together with the Faculty of Polish Studies of Jagiellonian University through the Book Centre in Oświęcim. Discussions about literature will last no longer than three quarters of an hour.

    The guiding idea of monthly meetings is to look at literary texts from new perspectives, to arouse the interest of listeners in various possibilities of interpreting them and to indicate the paths that can be followed by the reader's imagination. Lecturers will try to show that both old and modern literature contains inexhaustible layers of intellectual adventure and that the sense of a work is not established forever, but is continuously created and evolves depending on who is reading it and why. There is no crisis of literature – there can only be a crisis of the imagination. The series was inaugurated on the 19th of January 2012 with the lecture The permanent form of things. About Czesław Miłosz’s poetry by Professor Krzysztof Zajas from Jagiellonian University.

    Breakdowns of Literature in OświęcimBreakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    After discussions about Czesław Miłosz's poetry in January, a meeting with Dr Jarosław Fazan took place in February. The lecture by Fazan was provocatively entitled: ‘A mongrel, a hyaena, a crossbreed. The homeland travels of Andrzej Stasiuk’. During the lecture we could listen to reflections concerning Stasiuk's attitude to the homeland (or the small homeland), romantic tradition, physicality and politicality. To support his interpretation ideas, Dr Fazan quoted extensive fragments of books by Stasiuk, which certainly helped listeners understand many issues. The "breakdown” approach to reading the Polish writer was strongly present in the idea to focus, for example, on descriptions of the experience of “Polish religiousness” (the power of which lies in collectivity and celebrations) and in the comparison of Stasiuk to Miłosz, although they would seem so different in their outlooks on the world. The questions asked by listeners after the lecture referred to the problems of national identity, the authenticity of Stasiuk's liking for countries such as Romania and complexes related to being a Pole. After the summary of the meeting it turned out that "A mongrel, a hyaena, a crossbreed" is very valuable and interesting method of finding one's place in the world.

    In March we talked once again about Czesław Miłosz, but in a different way. Who was he? A Lithuanian? A Pole? An American? A citizen of old Europe, or maybe only (or as much as?) a “traveller of the world"? The world that was turning into a global village before his very eyes. The subject-matter of the lecture by Dr Joanna Zach-Rońda was Miłosz's vision of Europe as a constellation of places and as a space for culture – a vision inscribed into the work of the unusual witness of his epoch. What is this vision to us today: only a literary monument, or a lesson of living identity? This is what we were breaking down in March.

    Breakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    At another meeting, this time together with Dr Tomasz Kunz, we delved into texts by Marcin Świetlicki. The host of the meeting who is a university lecturer in fields such as poetry and history of literature, unravelled the meaning of symbols from Świetlicki's poems to the audience, emphasised their structure and showed how to "penetrate” the text to recognise its hidden meaning. He also talked about the pessimistic tone of Świetlicki’s poems, which often deal with topics such as the mediocrity of existence, the absurdity of writing and the vocation of a human as a being heading for death. However, the entire meaning was concluded by the statement about the need to read poetry of this kind as a moment of reflection on ourselves and the world.

    A fascinating meeting with Dr Michał Rusinek, Wisława Szymborska's secretary, took place in May. Using the professional term ‘ekphrasis’, which means the description of the relationship between a literary text and a picture, the deceased poet's friend showed how her poems are related to paintings. It also turned out to be a fantastic method of reading literature – when juxtaposed with art, these poems acquired an even larger number of meanings and gained a new sense for students. The second part of the meeting, during which the audience could ask questions not only about Szymborska’s poems, but also about the poet herself and working with her, was particularly long. Dr Rusinek answered these questions exhaustively, not avoiding anecdotes from the period of his work as Szymborska’s secretary and declarations of concern for the poet’s literary heritage.

    Breakdowns of Literature in OświęcimBreakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    In November, we dealt with the topic of accident and evolution in books by Stanisław Lem which were proposed and presented by an excellent literary critic and historian – Professor Jerzy Jarzębski. His research output includes, among others, books on Lem’s works (Lem's Universe, Zufall und Ordnung. Zum Werk Stanislaw Lems) and editing of a series of Lem’s Collected Works – from this, participants could also be certain that they would experience an intellectual feast. The lecture by Jarzębski did not disappoint the audience in any respect. Using specialised concepts in such a way that they were comprehensible to all participants, he talked about the problems of evolution, transcendence, enthropy, posthumanism and other phenomena described in books of the famous Polish futurologist. The professor’s theories were based mainly on examples from the novel Lord's Voice and a collection of essays The Philosophy of Accident as well on Tales of Pilot Pirx, Eden and Solaris. Referring to characters, situations and opinions contained in the aforementioned works, Jarzębski showed how Lem approached the problem of the existence of God, the accidentality of what happens in the world and the question whether events in human life are governed by any rules at all. During the lecture we could learn that the writer believed in the limited power of evolution and the law of causes and effects and had been inclined to support the theories of accident. After the lecture the professor answered questions on topics such as Lem's political outlooks in his last books and whether his books could be popular both among readers and researchers of literature in the present-day world. The entire meeting ended with a relatively optimistic conclusion that in worlds constructed by Lem there are still many "blank spots” that are extremely topical and need to be interpreted.

    Breakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    The patron of the project is the Faculty of Polish Studies of Jagiellonian University. Its academic co-ordinator is Dr Krzysztof Zajas, who represents the Faculty of Polish Studies.

    Breakdowns of Literature in Oświęcim

    Lectures are often preceded by performances of the Zawias Theatre Group from the Complex of Schools No. 1 in Oświęcim. To help readers get to our Library more quickly, a free bus service has been introduced. A specially marked free MZK public transport bus goes through strategic places of Oświęcim, taking along everybody willing to participate in Breakdowns, and stops in front of the entrance to the Library.