FILE-In this July 16, 2019 file photo a woman passes the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. Two co-founders of the museum urged the third partner — the Polish government — to comply with an agreement to re-appoint the museum's former director, saying a failure to do so is incomprehensible and is damaging to Polish-Jewish relations. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Poland urged to end 'damaging' impasse at Jewish museum

January 30, 2020 - 8:46 am

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Two co-founders of a prominent Jewish history museum in Warsaw urged their third partner — the Polish government — to comply with an agreement to re-appoint the museum's former director, saying Thursday that a failure to do so threatens the museum and is damaging to Polish-Jewish relations.

A standoff over the leadership of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw has dragged on since May, when the museum's former director, Dariusz Stola, won a competition to serve a second five-year term. Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has refused so far to reappoint Stola, saying that he was politically biased against Poland's right-wing government.

In response, Warsaw and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland demanded Thursday that the government reappoint Stola.

“We can no longer accept the situation in which one of the most important institutions of culture in Poland remains in a state of limbo," the Warsaw mayor and the chairman of the board of the private Jewish historical institute said in a joint statement.

There was no immediate comment from the Culture Ministry.

But Glinski last year claimed the museum was running smoothly under acting director, Zygmunt Stępinski. Under museum statues, an acting director can only serve for a year, and Stępinsk's term will end in late February.

In their statement, Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski and the Piotr Wiślicki, chairman of the board of the Jewish historical association, said that as that deadline approaches, the museum's functioning is threatened and that international partners “find this impasse beyond comprehension."

Opened in 2013, the museum presents the nearly 1,000-year history of Jewish life in Poland and the Holocaust. “Polin” is a Hebrew word meaning “rest here,” and was chosen to convey the idea that Jewish life flourished in Poland for many centuries until being nearly destroyed by Nazi Germany.

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