11:57 pm 02/28/20

Zygmunt Stępiński is named Director of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

2020-02-29T00:13:40-05:00February 28th, 2020|News from Poland, POLIN Museum|

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage signed the appointment of Zygmunt Stępiński as Director of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The twelve-month period of uncertainty is finally behind us. For me personally, as well as for all of those who were directly involved in the negotiation process, it was a trying time. We were worried about the future of our Museum. Today we are at peace, we have defended the Museum’s independence, which was most important for us. The new director, Zygmunt Stępiński, is not only an excellent manager with years of experience, but also he is actively involved in the life of several Jewish organizations in Poland. Our Association is proud to be one of them.

I would like to thank all of you who during this trying time stood by our side and supported our Association. Your involvement and your trust were invaluable to us. In particular, I would like to thank Professor Dariusz Stola. His sense of responsibility, sacrifice, and outstanding demeanor allowed us to end the crisis. I strongly believe that programs and goals set by Dariusz Stola will be continued under our new director. On behalf of myself and the board of our Association, wish Zygmunt Stępiński every success.

Piotr Wiślicki
President
Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland

Zygmunt Stępiński was born on 12 October 1947 in Warsaw. He graduated from the Department of History at the University of Warsaw in 1971.

He decided to stay in Poland after the March ’68 antisemitic campaign. He is a member of B’nai B’rith Poland lodge and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland. He was Deputy Director of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews from 2012 until 2019, with responsibility for education, communications, marketing, and sales, and such projects as the Daffodils campaign, Grand Opening of the Core Exhibition, Museum on Wheels, the annual POLIN Award, and the March ’68 program on the 50th anniversary of this event. He served as Acting Director of POLIN Museum from 1 March 2019 until the end of February 2020.

Mr Stępiński started his professional career as a journalist for Architektura, a monthly. On 14 December 1981, he was expelled from work for his political views. A week later he became the editorial secretary of one of the leading clandestine publishing houses in Poland (CDN). In 2008, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross Order of Polonia Restituta by President Lech Kaczyński for his underground activity during martial law.

In 1983, together with a group of journalists also dismissed on political grounds, Mr. Stępiński founded the MURATOR Publishing House, the first privately owned publishing house in Poland since the end of the Second World War. For eleven years, beginning in 1993, he acted as its CEO. He implemented the idea of a profitable, effectively competitive publishing company by introducing new products to the market, including 30 press titles: monthlies, information guides, catalogues, and websites. He achieved multiple growth in the company value (quote for the year 2004: 25 million USD; start-up capital in 1983: 1,000 USD). After a hostile takeover of the MURATOR Publishing House, he worked for leading European publishers as a media consultant (Bonnier Publications A/S Sweden and Edipresse Swiss Ukraine).

A recognized expert on the building industry and architecture, Mr Stępiński was the chair of the supervisory board of the Polish American Homebuilders Institute in Washington D.C. and Gdańsk from 1993 to 1996. He was also associated with USAID, National Home Builders Association, and Home Builders Institute. He was the main promoter of introducing a mortgage system in Poland, modeled on the American experience.

In 2016, he won a nationwide competition for the best marketing director of an institution of culture in Poland.

Zygmunt Stępiński is a son of Zygmunt Władysław Stępiński (1908-1982), a famous architect and urban planner.

7:11 pm 02/12/20

Dariusz Stola statement regarding POLIN Museum

2020-02-12T21:44:01-05:00February 12th, 2020|News from Poland, POLIN Museum|

 

At the request of Professor Dariusz Stola we thereby publicize his formal statement addressed to Mr. Piotr Wiślicki, President of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, and to Mr. Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of the City of Warsaw. It is a response to their joint statement issued on January 29th, 2020.

Professor Stola expresses his gratitude for their statement and, having reflected upon the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s reaction to it, he declares:

Aware of the damages incurred by the Museum, and of the threats that it continues to face, I wish to issue a formal statement, bearing in mind POLIN Museum’s best interest. I declare that I am ready to accept any conditions that would allow to resolve the current crisis. I am inclined to refrain from exercising my right on condition that the three Museum co-founders reach an agreement that is requisite for the institution’s further functioning.

For that reason Prof. Stola has decided to issue a statement of his own which you may find below:

STATEMENT

The dispute between the co-founders of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews— between the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage on one hand, and the City of Warsaw and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute on the other –—has reached its peak. Nearly a year ago, when my term as POLIN Museum Director was about to end, the three co-founders reached an agreement that a new director would be selected in an open competition. On 10 May 2019, the Selection Committee indicated me as the competition winner. Eight months have passed since, and the Minister has not yet appointed me to the post, inventing false excuses for his failure to act.

In the past few days, following repeated attempts to engage in a dialogue with the Minister, Mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski and President of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute Piotr Wiślicki issued a joint statement protesting against the Minister’s failure to comply with the above-mentioned agreement. The Ministry of Culture responded in a vague and perfunctory manner, which testifies to a clear breach of the agreement between the co-founders. There are grounds to believe that the Minister’s failure to act is in fact repugnant to the law.

Aware of the damages incurred by the Museum, and of the threats that it continues to face, I wish to issue a formal statement, bearing in mind POLIN Museum’s best interest. I declare that I am ready to accept any conditions that would allow to resolve the current crisis. I am inclined to refrain from exercising my right on condition that the three Museum co-founders reach an agreement that is requisite for the institution’s further functioning.

I wish to thank for the trust and support I was granted by Mayor Trzaskowski and Chairman Wiślicki, who have always been guided by POLIN Museum’s best interest. I am deeply convinced that in the future they will continue to seek the best solutions for the institution. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who showed me gestures of solidarity over the past year, and especially to the Association board who—in consultation with the Mayor of Warsaw and with the support of Museum donors—persistently canvassed for my appointment.

I would also like to thank my colleagues from POLIN Museum, its donors and friends, members of the Museum Council and its advisory boards, for their commitment and kindness they have shown me on many occasions. It was an honor and utmost pleasure to work with them. I kindly ask them not to give up their endeavors to support the Museum so that it can continue to fulfill its great mission: “to restore and preserve the memory of the history of Polish Jews, contributing to the mutual understanding and respect amongst Poles and Jews as well as other societies of Europe and the world.

Dariusz Stola

February 10, 2020