Polish president says Holocaust remembrance must not die

2020-01-23 10:37 update: 2020-01-25, 12:57
Andrzej Duda. Photo PAP/Leszek Szymański
Andrzej Duda. Photo PAP/Leszek Szymański
Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote in an open letter on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp that Holocaust remembrance should never die. It was published in the French Le Figaro, among other papers.

"The truth about the Holocaust must not die. It must neither be distorted nor instrumentalised for the sake of any motives," the Polish head of state underlined.

President Duda started his letter by recalling basic facts regarding the camp liberation. "On January 27, 1945, Soviet soldiers liberated the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp. We are still terrified by what they found there and this triggers our moral condemnation," he said.

The president recalled that over a million Jews were murdered in Auschwitz together with several dozen thousand Poles, Roma, Sinti and political prisoners. He described tortures and medical experiments which the camp inmates were exposed to, and pointed out that not many of them managed to survive.

"The same fate was suffered by millions of Jewish people murdered in other Nazi German death camps, namely, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Kulmhof, Stutthof and dozens of others," President Duda wrote.

"The authorities of the Third Reich planned a complete extermination of Jews and built a network of camps - death factories - where they murdered them on an industrial scale. Never in history was there such extreme dehumanisation and degradation of millions of innocent victims," the Polish president continued.

President Duda underlined in his letter the role of Poles helping Jews despite drastic punishment for this kind of activity. He recalled the role played by Witold Pilecki in informing the world about the Holocaust, who allowed himself be caught in a round-up to enter Auschwitz. He escaped from the camp in 1943, but during his imprisonment he managed to smuggle reports describing the atrocities taking place there.

The Polish president recalled the role of Jan Karski, an emissary of the Polish government, a witness to the Warsaw Ghetto liquidation and a courier who informed the world about the genocide on Polish territory. Duda also wrote about the merits of the Polish Underground State and the Council to Aid Jews (Zegota - PAP), as well as about the common Polish-Jewish culture and the contribution of the Jewish people to the building of the Polish state before WWII.

"In order to shape the future of the world, we have to develop our knowledge about what happened 75 years ago in the heart of Europe, and what is still being passed on to us by the living Holocaust survivors," Duda said.

Concluding his letter, the Polish president referred to the annual observances of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly to be marked on January 27, the day Auschwitz was liberated. "On the 75th anniversary - the symbolic end of the extermination - we will be testifying about the Truth, calling for peace, justice and respect among nations," he wrote.

The letter was published on the Le Figaro website as part of the "The truth that must not die" educational campaign, launched in cooperation with the Polish National Foundation and the New Media Institute. It was also published by the German Die Welt and the US Washington Post. (PAP)