Nov 23, 2021
In the Jewish cultural memory, 13 Tłomackie Street is the address of the worldwide embassy for Yiddish literature, a kind of British Council or Goethe Institute, as well as the Ministry of Diasporic Culture and the Cultural Parliament in one.
This ‘global address’, as the journalist Jecheskiel Najman called it, became a symbol of pre-war cultural life, its disputes and debates, as well as its ups and downs. It appears in almost every memoir about pre-war Jewish literary Warsaw.
Among others, the Nobel Prize laureateIsaac Bashevis Singerwrote a series of articles about the place. Of course, they did not mention the address itself, but the institution that operated here: Fareyn fun Yidishe Literatn un Zhurnalistn, or the Union of Jewish Writers and Journalists.
The union was founded in 1916 and initially had no headquarters. In June 1918, it moved to 11 Tłomackie Street, and then a few months later from October 1918 until May 1938, it functioned at the legendary address of 13 Tłomackie Street.
In 1927, Tłomackie 13 became the headquarters of the Warsaw section of the Jewish PEN-Club, an international organisation of writers, which continues to operate to this day.
Unseen is available as a downloadable podcast, although it is best experienced through the Echoes geolocative storytelling app available for iOS and Android. After loading the app, search for soundwalks in Warsaw and you’ll find Unseen.