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I first met Dan Kelly in a museum gift shop So begins Delta Shannon's journey of discovery with Dan and Ned Kelly. For five years after that first meeting with.
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I met Dan again. This time he told me he was still alive when they burned the pub, and that he did not escape the fire. I knew then that I could not drop this, as I had been told the truth from Dan in spirit prior to the statement in the paper. My next step as a medium was to find out how I could help Dan. It became apparent that Dan is trapped in Glenrowan, as it was always Ned to remind me to travel there.
Dan carries the pain of those awful events to this day, and his spirit is in a state of dismay. The energy that keeps both Dan and Ned trapped, the pain and anger that keep them earthbound, is caused by things that take place today that keep the so-called legend alive and keep both Dan and Ned earthbound. Channelling Dan was sometimes a sad thing to do. On one occasion, he showed me a vision of a hat. He looked very proud and dignified, not at all the wild bushranger of local legend. The fact that I was aware of their turmoil prompted me to return - and the ongoing reminder visits from Ned were a little hard to just brush aside.
It turns out that the date Dan showed me this hat was 28 June. On another occasion, Dan actually asked if I could return on 28 June, which of course I did. Dan would always appear upon my arrival at Glenrowan, always in an unhappy state. After my first few visits to Glenrowan, I knew I was being contacted for a reason, but was uncertain of the path I was being asked to take. Will you just do it so I can get some sleep?
Now I knew what had to be done to put this message out for Ned and Dan to carry out their release. I was committed. Whether or not I thought I could carry this exercise out was another matter, but it was irrelevant in comparison to the energy that Dan and Ned are trapped in today. At times the task seemed impossible to achieve, and I had to revert back to basics and realize that I was only the messenger; that the message is not for me.
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Peace and serenity is what Dan and Ned seek, and not to be judged. Peace, serenity, and freedom from judgement are what they seek. The pain Dan and Ned felt during their time of running, hiding and ambush is never considered, only judged. And it continues to this day. I do not care for the disbelief some people have for the spirits that are trapped on the earth plane. For one reason or another, in this particular event with Dan and Ned Kelly, the message is a strong one, and I was chosen to be the one to deliver it.
I am interested in whether and under what social conditions commemorating local Jewish communities in present-day Poland leads to coming to terms with painful memories and, by contrast, when it results in distorting such memories. The subject of my studies is commemorating Jewish communities in the local space of present-day Poland.
It includes a wide variety of initiatives, from Jewish culture festivals and the restoration of former synagogues to monographs about Jewish inhabitants. Different types of memory actor — town residents, descendants of local Jews, representatives of Jewish communities — living in Poland initiate, become involved in or refer to these mnemonic practices Olick In this article I analyse whether and under what social conditions commemoration can begin the process of confronting difficult memory of the Holocaust and its consequences, and when doing so it becomes impossible.
The dynamics of the memory of the Holocaust in Poland is determined by two facts. This catastrophe became associated with the territory of the Polish state by its material testimony on Polish land in the form of mass graves and memorial sites, as well as by the relics of former Jewish communities established over many centuries, such as synagogues, cemeteries, houses and items of everyday use Kapralski The various consequences of the Holocaust are important in determining the form that memory takes.
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Beginning with the demographics, entire Jewish communities, which accounted for more than half the local population in some smaller towns, ceased to exist. As a result, primarily in small towns, there was no one who could preserve any heritage that survived the war, foster remembrance of the murdered population and address or negotiate how their memory could be passed on to non-Jewish citizens after the war. The social and economic consequences of the Holocaust also need to be considered.
Some among the non-Jewish population, primarily those from the lower middle class, enjoyed material benefits when, in various ways during and after the war, they took possession of the property that used to belong to local Jews Grabowski and Libionka and occupied the now vacant social position in the social structure Leder From the perspective of the space where the Holocaust took place, its consequences for the identity of post-war Polish society and relations among and between various groups are extremely important.
As a result of the wartime events and the emigration of Jews that followed, the two communities were separated from each other. These categories are not clear-cut as, among others, they fail to reflect the complexity of attitudes and any changes that occurred in some individuals, and can give the impression that any given group is uniform in its attitude. This is why I use the categories as a starting point only in order to define each one in more detail in any context.
Gross is the term that in Polish evokes the visibility of the Holocaust. Different types of assistance can be distinguished, including freely given assistance and assistance at a price Datner The heritage of difficult memory, the one that is shameful and requires that national identity be revised, includes post-war hostility towards survivors returning to their former homes, many of whom were murdered Cichopek-Gajraj , The most tragic manifestation of this was the Kielce pogrom, which underlined that the Jewish minority was not welcome in post-war Poland, an otherwise almost entirely homogenous country ethnically Gross ; Tokarska-Bakir Summing up, the nature of the Holocaust, including the less explored social aspects of the atrocity, such as direct, individual or mass executions carried out by the Germans and their sympathizers Confino , —8 , involved local communities, something has not been accounted for or discussed until now and yet forms part of the memory of individual locations.
Apart from a brief post-war period when a group of intellectuals took up the subject of the Holocaust and the consequences of the anti-Semitic attitudes of the Poles Michlic , various aspects of these issues have been the subject of collective forgetting Connerton and silence Vinitzky- Seroussi and Tegger for a long time. There are several reasons for this.
But the most important issue was the resistance of a large part of society, who treated commemoration of the Holocaust as an extrinsic or inconvenient memory. The dynamics of the memory of the tragedy of the Jews under communism was investigated, among others, by Michael Steinlauf What I emphasize though is the many levels within the memory of the Holocaust — first, those created by various group narratives, both the dominant and the minority group; and secondly, the relationship between official and unofficial vernacular memory.
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To a large extent, the vernacular memory was preserved thanks to the synagogues and cemeteries that survived, and both immovable and movable property which functioned as a perpetual link with the past, and was often the source of concern because of the possibility of property restitution, contributing to the framework of the aversion towards Jews Stola From the perspective of official memory, a conspiracy of silence developed around the problematic aspects Zerubavel ; and in the context of Polish—Jewish relations, see Tokarska-Bakir This category characterizes adequately memory in the local space where most inhabitants were aware of what had happened but their knowledge did not extend beyond the group and, what is more, was not dwelt on.
There was no social space in which their memory could be challenged by alternative accounts of the past. Today, in many places in Poland, various memory actors include the history and culture of local Jews in the official narrative of the past of a given place, but express an alternative attitude to the recognition of the Jewish memory. Discussions about the Jedwabne pogrom, which introduced the Holocaust into Polish discourse on focusing attention on specific places and the attitudes of a local community, as well as the consequences of those tragic events, should be seen as symbolizing coming to terms with difficult memory Melchior and Michlic What I am interested in is whether and in what way the initiatives related to local Jewish history and culture include or lead to reflection on the attitudes of bystanders and their consequences.
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In this article I focus on whether and under what conditions commemorations in local Polish milieus make it possible to begin the process of facing up to difficult memory and, by contrast, when the opposite happens and circumstances from the past are repeated and reinforced, for example the widespread image of a Jew as a threatening Other Michlic I allude here to Adorno , LaCapra and Ricoeur on working through difficult memory. What these authors have in common is a warning against defining this as a linear process, heading towards the point when its end can be declared.
They all emphasize that, sometimes, matters that seem to be resolved become subject to the conflict of memory again. The potential of the memory of the Holocaust in a given place is demonstrated, among others, by how its consequences are represented.
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These considerations will be explored in more detail in the analysis of the phenomenon of commemoration. I will approach mnemonic practices concerning memory of the Jewish heritage from the perspective of the possibility of shaping the social space where various versions of memory may meet see Lehrer , while paying close attention to the situations when these practices lead to memory conflict see Kapralski This is interpreted within the framework of the sociological theory of collective memory Halbwachs I take the position that memory is not something we have but something we do Olick , , and I treat mnemonic practices and products as expressions of collective remembrance, which can include a reminiscence, representation, denial, apology and stories, rituals, monuments and historical studies Olick , In this way participants employ all the resources and rules at hand, which are both the means and results of actions reproducing and shaping memory structures.
In this article I focus on the mnemonic practices and products and characteristics of the memory actors involved. The three synagogues now have different ownership status. Finally, initiatives commemorating Jewish communities have been organized in all three locations for several years now. The towns have been used as case studies because of the nature of the past contacts within and between groups, the type of Jewish settlements and the network of relations with the neighbouring villages and other locations that characterized the former shtetls towns with large Jewish populations before the war; Orla-Bukowska ; Teller The features of these intergroup relations, linked with the nature of the Holocaust, are visible and involve non-Jewish inhabitants.
I do not describe the history of each town in detail but I do highlight the facts that establish the framework of these relations. In the small towns, non-Jewish residents were not completely cut off from Jews, some even lived inside the ghetto. The Holocaust, marked by deteriorating living conditions, forced labour, the brutality of the Germans and their supporters and mass executions until the final liquidation of the ghetto, was thus visible. Proximity to the events is confirmed by the accounts of survivors, local records and evidence given by Polish residents made in post-war investigations, and can be found in vernacular memory transmission in the following decades.
Importantly, it should be noted that the layout of these towns has changed little since the war. The buildings and town houses in the market square and the streets leading off it used to belong to Jews, Jewish cemeteries still exist and the synagogues have been restored. This infrastructure is testimony to the Jewish history of these towns. My aim was to collect the material that represented various mnemonic practices and products that are part of both official and unofficial memory, and in Jewish and local memory, in order to explore the dynamics of the remembrance of Jews and the Holocaust.
Secondly, I used material obtained in qualitative studies, which included in-depth interviews with sixty-three individuals and five group interviews with the interviewees representing various types of memory actors, including memory leaders people who initiated practices and were involved in them on a permanent basis , institutional players for example, mayors, teachers, social activists, priests , local residents born before and after the war, then school students , descendants of Jews and experts on the Jewish heritage in Poland.
In addition, I took part in many commemoration events, such as memorial days, lectures and excursions. Exploratory research was carried out in in Bobowa. The next research field studies in the three towns were made between and The sources thus obtained are used in this article to identify what is subject to silence and the likelihood of overturning the status quo, among other things, due to the presence of memory actors who reflect on the past. What I consider to be indicators of progress made in facing up to the difficult past are mnemonic practices and products, because of the way they reflect the following areas: Polish—Jewish relations, Jewish history and culture, and the place of the Holocaust in the history of Poland and Polish national identity.
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Taking these into account, I have identified three memory discourses that differ in terms of their attitude to the Jewish perspective: the critical, the affirmative and the ethno-nationalistic. The critical approach is characterized by recognition of and space for the expression of the Jewish memory. In any specific place these discourses often coexist, but it is possible to identify both which is the dominant one and is the reference point for most practices and trends with regard to change, for example when the minority discourse gains in importance.
Progress can also be seen in what memory actors who initiate and participate in the practices under investigation actually do. This includes their motivations, where their knowledge comes from, their ability to reflect on difficult memory, and the various resources that make it possible to change the status quo. I am particularly interested in memory leaders because when they initiate the practices related to the Jewish past of a given place. Depending on the context, they come up against areas that have been subject to collective amnesia and silence. I discerned three such areas: a Jewish presence over many centuries, the Holocaust and its consequences, and the attitudes towards Jews, including the problem of anti-Semitism this also applies to present times.
All are rooted in local space, specific people, events and places. When analysing the commemoration, I explore the diversity, and often coexistence, of contradictory attitudes to the Jewish heritage in one place. For each case, I could see the dominant trend, which is presented using the example of three major mnemonic practices that I consider represent the type of commemoration in each town.
During the first remembrance days local residents were able to meet survivors who attended with their children and grandchildren. There was also a meeting with the owner of the restored synagogue, Rabbi Reich access to the synagogue became more difficult later.
In the following years, an informal group formed round the remembrance days. This is one example of a practice anchored in space that involves the bodies of the actors who participate in it, making it possible to develop an empathetic relationship with the victims that avoids pathos while being dignified in tone.