Poland’s official state ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

April 20, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has spoken at Poland’s official state ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, following an address by Polish President Andrzej Duda.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder speaking at Poland’s official state ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 19 April 2018. Photo: Shahar Azran

In his address, Ronald S. Lauder appealed to both Poles and Jews to remember “our shared history, our friendship, our common bonds, and the truth,” and to “stand together now to make sure that our children and our grandchildren never know the true horrors that took place right her, 75 years ago.”

In his address, Polish President Duda described the events of April 1943 as an “uprising of the people who decided to keep their dignity… Did they think they would become heroes…no for sure they were not thinking about that… But today all of us are bowing our heads very low to their courage determination bravery… They perished for dignity, they perished for freedom but they perished for Poland because they were Polish citizens…  Poles and Jews deeply care about having one shared historical truth.”

Lauder was leading a delegation of nearly 100 Jewish community representatives from around the world this week to commemorate the anniversary, joined by President of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland Leslaw Piszweski, Chief Rabbi of Poland Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, and other distinguished guests.

“There is an extraordinary coincidence of dates today that cannot go unnoticed. We are here today to honor the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but on the Jewish Calendar, today is also the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern Jewish State of Israel,” Lauder said. “I believe that it was the heroism of the brave young Polish-Jews who stood up to the Nazis here that inspired the future young defenders of Israel who defeated five armies many times their size…. There is a history of strength and courage in the Jewish people that defies number and odds and, sometimes, reality… and it was here in Warsaw that one of the most important chapters in that history was written… we are standing on a modern-day Massada.”

Lauder also recalled “another chapter of great heroism written in Warsaw”, just a year later, when members of the Polish Underground rose up against the German army at the orders of the Red Army. “What do these two events have in common? They show the resolve and the courage of the Polish people, whether they were Jewish or Catholic, to resist oppression. It also reminds us of the long history of cooperation between Jews and Catholics in Poland,” Lauder said.

In reference to the controversy that has arisen in recent months surrounding Poland’s Holocaust law, Lauder said: “We also the following facts. The death camps were designed, maintained, and staffed by German SS troops. Jews, Christians, and others were murdered there. Throughout Europe, and here in Poland, there were brave non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jewish families. And there were those, throughout Europe and here in Poland, who betrayed Jews and stole their property. These are facts that cannot and should never be denied.”

“Mr. President, you, and I, and all of us, must focus on everything that brings us together: Our shared history, our friendship, our common bonds, and the truth. And we are here today to remember those bonds. All Poles fought the Nazis here: Polish-Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and, one year later, Polish Catholics in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. That is the special bond that cannot be broken by anyone.

“The Nazis have been gone for 73 years. Defeated, destroyed, crushed. But oppression, and oppressors have not gone away. We need each other today, like never before,” Lauder added. “Jews, Catholics, Poles, Americans, all free people, must stand together now to make sure that our children and our grandchildren never know the true horrors that took place right her, 75 years ago.”

At the memorial, Lauder also held talks with President Duda and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on various issues of concern.

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