I only discovered this towards the end of my stay in Częstochowa, there’s not much really made of it, but it’s a well designed memorial to mark where part of the city’s Jewish ghetto was located during the Second World War. The ghetto was relatively short-lived, it was created in the spring of 1941 and liquidated between late September and early October 1942. Over 40,000 Jews from the city were sent to concentration camps and 5,000 were sent to work at the HASAG factory. Very few survived the ghetto, concentration camps and work camps, with the post-war Jewish population being around 3,000 and many of those decided to leave the city.
The memorial has the Jewish star on the left and railway tracks on the right, with a large crack to signify the break between the Jewish community in the city and those sent by train to concentration camps.
This is a thoughtful addition to the memorial, quite bleak in its minimalism. It shows some of the transportations which took place from Częstochowa to Treblinka concentration camp. The monument was designed in 2009 by Samuel Willenberg (1923-2016) and it’s hard to imagine someone more appropriate to create this imagery. Samuel was a local man who was sent to Treblinka and then managed to escape before getting to the country’s capital to fight in the Warsaw Uprising in the Home Army. He escaped German clutches again and spent the post-war period as an engineer and sculptor, ultimately becoming the last living survivor from Treblinka. Untold amounts of bravery and a national hero, and it seems a positive idea to rename the former Umschlagplatz with the name Samuel Willenberg Square.
It shames the city, by its own admission, that this monument was desecrated and vandalised a few months ago. It was swiftly repaired, but it caused huge upset amongst many parts of the community.
This is more of a problem, it’s the remains of the railway station and is located next to the memorial as it’s where the transportations left from.
The building is in urgent need of repair and I understand that the city has failed to buy it.
It’s fair to say that the state of this former railway station is far from ideal and I hope that some plan can come together to save it before it entirely falls down. I’m not sure, judging by the condition of the building, if the authorities have much time left.