This reconstruction of a wooden 17th-century synagogue once located in Gwozdziec, a formerly Polish town in Ukraine, is part of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jew in Warsaw, Poland. The synagogue, which helps re-create Jewish life in that era, is one of the most striking exhibits in the museum's core exhibition.
A young German soldier tries to humiliate an elderly Polish Jew by cutting his beard. Beard-cutting was a method of humiliation favored by many Germans. As it is with all bullies and their victims, the strong bear the real shame for preying on the weak. The Jews of Europe bore such petty torments with exceptional dignity and fortitude. If this soldier were still alive to look back at this picture, would he feel ashamed? If he retained any humanity, he would.