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High-tech edge for Poland’s Jewish history

Published on 18/06/2009

Warsaw -- The creators of Poland's future Museum of Polish Jews Tuesday in Warsaw launched the Virtual Shtetl website, a portal they hope will build the museum's collection even before its doors open in 2011.

"This portal has the potential to become the greatest source of information about Jewish life in Poland prior to the war," project creator and coordinator Albert Stankowski told reporters in Warsaw Tuesday.

So far the site has information on 800 Polish cities and towns that were "shtetls" or Jewish settlements prior to the Holocaust, in which six million European Jews — three million of them from Poland — perished under Nazi German genocide.

The bilingual Polish-English website is built on Web 2.0 technology allowing users to contribute information and eyewitness testimony to the site.

Stankowski hopes the site will open channels of communication on an international scale and bring to light nearly a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland obliterated by the Holocaust.

The website is the virtual arm of the long-awaited Museum of the History of Polish Jews, expected to open its doors in 2011 after more than a decade of preparations.

The English version of the website is on: http://www.sztetl.org.pl/?cid=15&lang=en_GB