The second day of the 12th Annual Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, held in Łódź, Poland, was dedicated to exploring the theme of “Social and Creative Dimensions of Cultural Heritage in a Post-Industrial Perspective” through a variety of sessions.
The first general session of the day focused on “Preserving and Revitalizing Post-Industrial Heritage.” During this session, the spotlight was on how the reuse, innovative design, and collaborative planning transformed abandoned factories and warehouses into vibrant cultural hubs, creative incubators, and community spaces.
One of the speakers in this session was François Moyse, President of AEPJ. He presented the AEPJ and discussed the relevance of the theme in the context of the Jewish heritage route. He highlighted significant examples and best practices in the field, both in terms of the diverse uses of heritage spaces and the bottom-up approach that involves local communities and institutions working together to showcase European Jewish heritage.
During the afternoon session, colleagues from other cultural routes, with which we regularly collaborate, such as the Ceramics Route, the Route of Charles V, and Iter Vitis, engaged in a thought-provoking debate on new approaches to participation in cultural heritage.
One of the highlights of the day for the AEPJ was the invitation received from the head of the tourist office to visit significant sites of Łódź’s important Jewish heritage. As a result, François Moyse and Victor Sorenssen had the opportunity to explore the Jewish heritage of Łódź, which bears a strong imprint of the Holocaust.
Łódź, a highly prominent industrial city, witnessed Jews playing a pivotal role in the city’s textile industry, with ownership of 175 factories by 1914. Notably, one of the most renowned plants was the I.K. Poznanski plant, which ranked among the largest textile facilities in Europe. Before World War II, Łódź was home to a Jewish population of approximately 233,000, comprising roughly one-third of the city’s overall population and constituting the second largest Jewish community in Europe. Tragically, only around 7,000 Jews from the Łódź ghetto survived the war.
The visit proved to be highly enlightening, offering insights into the history, notable figures, and the current efforts and challenges related to preserving Jewish heritage in the city.