Held virtually for the last two-years due to covid, the daffodil campaign organized by POLIN returns today for its tenth anniversary edition.
Known locally as Akcja Żonkile, the action was originally launched in 2013 and saw the distribution of tens of thousands of paper daffodils around the streets of Muranów – once the heart of Warsaw’s Jewish community.
Occurring on the anniversary of the outbreak of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the event saw the lionization of the humble daffodil – symbolic of respect, memory and hope, the flower has been associated with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ever since veteran combatant Marek Edelman began leaving them at various sites linked to the revolt.
A revered cardiologist, patriot and social activist, Edelman assumed command of the Jewish rebels during the Ghetto Uprising after their original leader, Mordechai Anielewicz, committed suicide.
After his death in 2009, the tradition was again revived by POLIN and whilst the pandemic put the kibosh on the public distribution of flowers, the institution adapted by instead going online and creating print-friendly daffodils for people to download at home.
Furthermore, special graphics were also prepared allowing people the world over to add a commemorative Facebook frame or take a selfie with a memorial poster.
Whilst these options will be retained, for the first time since 2019 young volunteers will again pound the streets around POLIN today handing commemorative flowers with this year’s leading motif being ‘love’.
“Edelman once wrote that nobody ever asked him about love in the ghetto,” says POLIN, “so this year’s edition will ponder not only that question posed by Edelman, but also focus on the meaning and significance of love in the Warsaw Ghetto. We will be guided by the words of Marek Edelman: ‘Hatred is easy. Love requires effort and sacrifice’.”
This year will see 368,000 flowers dished out, an amount mirroring the number of Jews that were held captive in the largest Ghetto in occupied Nazi Europe. The day will also be marked by a ceremonial wreath laying at the Ghetto Heroes Monument outside Polin, three theatrical performances and the official unveiling of a mural outside Metro Centrum.
Moreover, current events will not be ignored either with the museum stating that the war in Ukraine has been high in their minds. “This year’s edition of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Campaign is taking place at a time when people are yet again being killed in Eastern Europe, including women and children,” they say.
“We want the participation in the Campaign to be a manifestation of sorts of our opposition to war, and to any form of violence. With Marian Turski’s words in mind – “Auschwitz did not fall from the sky” – we wish to stand united with those who are fighting for their country, for the freedom and dignity of their loved ones.”