Szymon Szurmiej Honorary Citizen of Warsaw

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fot. Marek Górecki

Szymon Szurmiej, (born 18 June 1923, died July 2014)
Honorary Citizen of Warsaw since July 2004.
Resolution of the Council of the Capital City of Warsaw No. XXXII/723/2004 of 1 July 2004.

Polish actor, director, and activist of the Jewish community, the general and artistic director of the Ester Rachel Kamińska and Ida Kamińska Jewish Theatre in Warsaw.
He began his own artistic work as a director and actor in 1951 in Teatr Polski in Wrocław. In 1955 he became the artistic manager of the Theatre in Opole, and then he took over the artistic management of Teatr Powszechny in Wrocław. In 1969 he moved to Warsaw, when on 1 September 1970 he was appointed director of the National Jewish Theatre, of which he is still in charge today.
He established an Actors’ College at the theatre, with the aim of finding new actors for the team, which disbanded after the events of March 1968. Thanks to this, he saved the theatre from decline and closure.
In his theatre, he continues the best traditions of the Jewish stage in Poland, with almost the entire repertory of Jewish classics in his artistic legacy.
Besides directorial achievements, Szymon Szurmiej has played many prominent roles on the stage of the Jewish Theatre, where he has presented unforgettable, idiosyncratic creations, in which dramatic expression and lyrical notes are intermingled with his innate sense of humour.
He has been on many travels with the Jewish Theatre, appearing in almost all the countries of the world. His foreign performances were always highly acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for their professionalism and artistic maturity. He was also praised for cultivating the tradition of the Yiddish-language theatre. Thanks to his activities the Jewish Theatre became the ambassador of ages-long traditions of connection between the Polish and Jewish cultures. He is very involved in social activities. As a Member of Parliament in the 9th term of the Polish Parliament and as the Vice President of the Parliamentary Commission for Culture he did great service to the Polish culture and its rank in the world.
In recognition of his merits he received in 2002 the Grand Cross of Merit awarded by the President of Germany and a high distinction from the French Government for his contribution to French culture. As an artiste and social activist he has received numerous highest national distinctions such as the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta and the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.