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2017-02-15

Ghetto sign found in Legionowo

A Legionowo resident has found a warning sign that was once placed at the ghetto border.

The sign is made of wooden planks and weighs about 10 kilograms in total. An inscription made in black paint in Polish and German says: "Jewish district. Entry strictly forbidden for Germans and Poles." The Germans placed such signs around a ghetto which they created in 1940. One of such signs is visible in a historic photograph.

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Border of the getto in Legionowo, photo: private collection   

In December 2016, the sign was placed on an online auction site. The owner set the price at PLN 10,000, but after some time raised it to PLN 50,000. In the description, the seller said that it had been found in an attic in Legionowo during construction work in Jana III Sobieskiego and Chrobrego streets.

Museum specialists got interested in the finding, including those employed at the Historical Museum in Legionowo and the Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. However, the purchase was out of the question, also because of the price.

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Ghetto sign, photo: Historical Museum in Legionowo   

In January, police launched an investigation into the case. Assistant Police Commissioner Emilia Kuligowska of the County Police Headquarters in Legionowo announced that after the notification by the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, officers demanded that the sign be handed over. The item was deposited with the Historical Museum in Legionowo until the case is clarified. Under the Civil Code, the founder of an item of significant scientific or artistic value is obliged to notify a relevant state agency and hand over the finding. The State Treasury becomes the owner of the finding, while the founder is entitled to a reward.

The staff of the Historical Museum in Legionowo hope that the unique historical item will ultimately enrich the museum's collection. Curator Wawrzyniec Orliński said that the sign was in a bad condition and needed conservation.

Krzysztof Bielawski

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