Exhibition - Instytut Pileckiego

Lemkin. Witness to the Age of Genocide

The exhibition features photographs, documents and audiovisual materials from American archives, most of which have never been presented in Poland before. We tell the story of a man who was born in the Polish Eastern Borderlands, and later educated and employed in the Second Polish Republic. He then had to flee the German terror in order to develop his concept in the United States, which today is the most significant response to the tragic experience of the Second World War, formulated on the basis of law and political philosophy. The life and work of Lemkin – one of the heroes of the 20th century – is presented against the background of the drama of the German and Soviet occupations of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe, where the mass atrocities of the two totalitarian systems were concentrated. The personal belongings of the victims of genocide and the individual accounts of the survivors, which are presented in the exhibition, are their testimony. 

Rafał Lemkin, known primarily in academic circles and among experts in international law, deserves to be included among the key figures of the 20th century as an outstanding intellectual, researcher of totalitarian crimes and author of the concept of genocide. Next to Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, Jan Karski, Witold Pilecki and Szmul Zygielbojm, he was an individual who tried to make the world aware of the enormity of the tragedy that was taking place on Polish soil under the occupation of two totalitarian regimes. His concept gained universal recognition and forever changed international law and considerations of the desired shape of relations between human communities. These are sufficient reasons to rediscover the figure of one of the most eminent jurists of the last century, who was a “witness of the age of genocide”.

Curators: Tomasz Stefanek, Bartek Gralicki