Sweet Home Sweet. A story of Survival, Memory, and Returns

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  • Friday, August 20, 2021 - Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Exhibition at Galicia Jewish Museum is devoted to three generations of the Ores family and their relationship to Poland. The exhibition explores how Holocaust memory and narratives are transmitted through the generations, and how the children and grandchildren of survivors engage with contemporary Poland.

Richard Ores was born to a Jewish family in Kraków in 1923. He lived in the center of the city with his mother and sister, attending Jewish and public school. He was 15 years old when the war broke out. He survived the Kraków Ghetto, Płaszów, and several concentration camps in Germany. Almost everyone else in his family was killed. While in the ghetto, Richard took photographs of his friends. Symbolic proofs of existence of his family and friends, almost all killed during the Holocaust. Together with a collection of pre-war photos he buried these in a jar in Płaszów, and dug them up after the war. The entire collection is shared with the public for the first time, as part of the exhibition at the Galicia Jewish Museum.

Richard spent the rest of his life mostly in the United States, but he continued to feel deeply connected to Poland. He made dozens of trips back to his hometown, often bringing his family with him. He also stayed in touch with friends in Kraków, among them heroes from the Kraków Ghetto like Julian Aleksandrowicz and Tadeusz Pankiewicz. In New York, he raised funds for hospital equipment for a clinic in Kraków and for the renovation and care of many of the city’s Jewish heritage sites, with the Ronald Lauder Foundation. For these actions, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, the Cross of the Home Army, and the Oświęcim Cross. He was also a consultant on the film “Schindler’s List” as he was a survivor of the ghetto and Płaszów labor camp.

He continued to be fascinated with photography his entire life, endlessly documenting his experiences and the people around him in photographs and videos. 

The exhibition created by the Galicia Jewish Museum is about Richard, his family and their relationship to Poland. Relying heavily on the visual materials Richard produced and collected in his lifetime, the exhibition also incorporates interviews with members of his family, as well as archival documents and objects describing a complicated relationship of a Jewish family with the country of their origins. The story of a deep longing despite trauma and pain, but also story of courage and hope.

Though Richard died in 2011, the 2nd and 3rd generation of his family have continued to be involved with Polish Jewish life. His daughter Michelle is engaged in the Kraków Jewish community and the preservation of Jewish life and heritage in Poland. Her son Adam has lived in Poland since 2017, where his work has focused on Jewish history and heritage. Many other members of the family have forged their own varied relationships to Poland and the Holocaust.

Many Polish Holocaust survivors and their descendants understandably have a view of Poland focused on the Poland of their parents’ or grandparents’ childhood and the horrors of the war. The Ores family, through its continued engagement with Poland and established friendships with Poles, has a relationship with the country that, while very centered on the Holocaust and their family history, has with a strong connection to Poland as a whole and to the renewal of Jewish Polish life today.

While Poland has become an important destination for Jewish heritage tourism over the last few decades, there is rarely any meaningful interaction between the visitors and the locals. This exhibit will raise challenging questions about the relationship between ethnic Poles and Jewish survivors and visitors with the goal of strengthening Polish-Jewish relations today.

The exhibition is arranged in a modern and visually attractive style. It presents both historical objects (letters, documents, photos) and audiovisual materials: interviews and testimony from Richard, recorded in the 1990s, as well as interviews with family members recorded specifically for the exhibition.



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