September 26, 2023
Memorial Pillar Update! Two weeks ago, Frank Idzikowski and I had the pleasure of once again visiting the workshop of stone conservator, Bartosz Markowski, outside Warsaw who was engaged by the Bialystok Cemetery Restoration Fund to restore the pillar on Bagnowka Jewish Cemetery that remembers the victims of two 1905 massacres and the 1906 Pogrom in Bialystok.
Today, I received an update on the next phase of restoration – the gilding of the pillar’s historical overview and the poem, “Pillar of Sorrow”, by Zalman Shneour. The work is breathtaking! Restoration is still on schedule to be completed by the end of November, if not sooner.
To contribute to the pillar’s restoration, please visit bialystokcemeteryrestoration.org/donate/
September 5, 2023
Memorial Pillar Update! In June, the memorial pillar that remembers the 1906 Pogrom in Bialystok and two massacres in 1905 began its journey of restoration. Six weeks ago, Frank and I visited the pillar in Bartosz Markowski’s workshop outside of Warsaw. Today, Frank and I, enroute from Dresden to Warsaw, once again were fortunate to visit and check on the pillar’s progress.
The last traces of blue paint from grafitti have been removed. They became visible after the black paint used to cover the grafitti was removed. Larger corners and edges, damaged during the pillar’s vandalism in the early 1980s, have been repaired with flecks of the same stone. They will be polished, blending nicely with the original stone save the edges, which bear witness to the pillar’s history of trauma. Smaller knicks and bullet holes – now more evident since the unsightly black paint has been removed, will likewise remind us of this trauma.
Names or letters effaced because of this violence can now be engraved in these new flecks of stone! Equally exciting is that the new pieces of this same Swedish granite have arrived. An upper register destroyed in the vandalism can now be restored as well as the stone base and two stone spacers.
Completion of this restoration is still on schedule, to be finished this November. Stay tuned for future updates, including the gilding of the full texts on the pillar!
To contribute to the restoration of the pillar please visit: www.bialystokcemeteryrestoration.org
July 30, 2023
Update!! A month and a day ago the Memorial Pillar that remembers victims of the 1906 Pogrom and two 1905 massacres on Bialystok’s Bagnowka Jewish Cemetery in Bialystok, Poland began its journey of restoration. Leaving the cemetery by the capable hands of conservator Bartosz Markowski, the pillar temporarily resides in a sculpture and conservator workshop on the outskirts of Warsaw.
Today, on behalf of the Bialystok Cemetery Restoration Fund, who initiated and fully funded the pillar’s restoration through their generous donors, BCRF Vice-Chair, translator Heidi Szpek-Idzikowski and BCRF photographer Frank Idzikowski visited the pillar! What an awesome honor to observe this pillar at eye level and once again see every delicate letter of its inscription!
The thick black paint – an attempt at restoration over grafitti was removed, revealing traces of blue paint from the graffiti. The conservator is confident that the blue paint can also be removed. Visible now is the sparkle of the delicate white flecks of this incredible Swedish granite! The extraordinary strength of this stone can be credited with preserving this monument when it was vandalized in the early 1980s. Also, visible are traces of the original gold gilding in select words and letters. New gilding is planned after larger marks of vandalism are repaired or removed and the stone is polished.
Completion is targeted for late 2023. Stay tuned for more updates!
Donations are still appreciated as the zlote costs keep coming: bialystokcemeteryrestoration.org/donate/
June 29, 2023
Great News!! The Bialystok Cemetery Restoration Fund is excited to announce the restoration of the Memorial Pillar to the 1906 Pogrom and two 1905 Massacres in Bialystok, Poland is finally underway! The Memorial Pillar, crafted from Swedish granite, was erected sometime between 1906 and 1918. It remembers the names of over 100 Jewish victims of these horrific actions. The pillar itself was victimized in the mid-1980s, dumped on the nearby City Cemetery, bearing scars of its vandalism. It was rescued in 1985, thanks in part to the now Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, and the Bialystok Center in New York. In the mid-1990s, a poor attempt at restoration was undertaken, encouraging further deterioration.
Today, the pillar began its journey toward restoration and will take approximately 3 to 6 months. The restoration work is coordinated by conservator, Mr. Bartosz Markowski from Warsaw, by approval of the City of Bialystok and supervised by Filip Szczepański of the Rabbinical Commission for Cemeteries, Office of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich. This project was initiated and funded by the Bialystok Cemetery Restoration Fund, USA, and their generous donors.
Stay tuned for more updates on the journey of this pillar toward its restoration!
To contribute to the pillar’s journey, please visit: gofund.me/3175cefc
Link to video by Dr. Tomasz Wisniewski: (250) Białystok. Pomnik pogromowy będzie odrestaurowany – YouTube
While the pillar is under restoration, a virtual tour is provided in the gallery below. Each image contains an English translation of the text contained in that image. Photos © Frank J. Idzikowski and Dr. Heidi M. Szpek, 2008.