Drugi tom monumentalnego dzieła Marii i Kazimierza Piechotków poświęcony został bóżnicom murowanym na ziemiach dawnej Rzeczypospolitej, a więc na większości obszaru dzisiejszej Polski i dużej części Ukrainy, jak też całej Litwy i Białorusi, a nawet niewielkiej części Mołdawii (na lewym brzegu Dniestru). W przeciwieństwie do synagog drewnianych, niemal całkowicie zniszczonych przez nazistowskie Niemcy podczas ostatniej wojny,
synagogi murowane, choć w większości zburzone, a pozostałe zdewastowane (także po 1945 r.), w pewnej części przetrwały do dziś. Po konserwacji i rekonstrukcjach stały się one ważna częścią kulturowego dziedzictwa Polski i Europy Środkowo Wschodniej.
Katalog został wydany we współpracy z Polskim Instytutem Studiów nad Sztuką Świata.
The second volume of the monumental work by Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka is devoted to masonry synagogues built in the lands of the former Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania–in other words, in most of the territory of present-day Poland and a large part of Ukraine, together with the whole of Lithuania and Belarus, and also a part of Moldova (on the left bank of the River Dniester). The greater part of the world’s Jewish population lived in these territories in modern times and in the nineteenth century, comprising around 10% of the total population of these lands.
Nineteenth and early twentieth century emigration, and above all the Holocaust which took place during the Second World War, resulted in the almost complete disappearance of the Jewish population from these territories. Memorials of the past remain, however, in the form of synagogue architecture represented in drawings, photographs and other materials, as well as in the surviving urban framework of towns in which Jews once lived.
In contrast with wooden synagogues, which were almost completely obliterated by Nazi Germans during the Second World War, masonry synagogues, although mostly destroyed, with the remaining ones devastated also after 1945, have to a certain extent survived to the present day.
Following conservation and reconstruction, they have become a vital element in the cultural heritage of Poland and of Central-Eastern Europe.
The latest in a series of books by Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka devoted to wooden synagogues. Their first book on this topic entitled Wooden Synagogues was released as early as 1957; the English-language edition followed in 1959. Later on, the authors published a number of books through the Krupski i S-ka publishing house: "Heaven’s Gates. Wooden Synagogues in the Territories of the Former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth" (1996, translated into English in 2004), followed by "Heaven’s Gates. Brick and Stone Synagogues in the Territories of the Former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth" (1999) and "Oppidum Judaeorum. Jews in the Urban Environment of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth". The current edition, prepared after Kazimierz Piechotka’s passing, was made possible thanks to the efforts of Professor Jerzy Malinowski, the financial support of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage as well as the cooperation of the Institute of Arts of the Polish Academy of Sciences and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. The book consists of two parts. The first part, preceded by a preface which presents the historical background, basic information on the Jewish diaspora, synagogue architecture and summary information on brick and masonry synagogues in Poland, discusses the architectural and structural solutions used for wooden synagogues erected between the mid-17th century and the early 20th century in the territory of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as well as their interior layout. The second part – designed as a photo book – contains descriptions, drawings and photographs of the selected wooden synagogues from this period. The current edition features a modified order of chapters, with some chapters having been re-edited and expanded; the catalogue of synagogues featured in the book has also been slightly altered.
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