Ceremony Honouring the Heroes

MP, 24th November 2008
A ceremony to honor Poles who helped Jews during the Second World War took place on November 17th at 17:00 at the National Theater in Warsaw.

The decorations were presented by President Lech Kaczyński’s representatives, Ms. Maria Kaczyńska, the president’s wife, and Ewa Junczyk - Ziomecka, the Secretary of State of the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland. Seventy of those who risked their own lives and the lives of those close to them to save Jewish friends, neighbors, and fellow residents were decorated na stronie internetowej „lista uhonorowanych”

In attendance at the ceremony were the Righteous with their families, higher representatives of government offices, ambassadors, delegations of international research institutes, Polish cultural groups, as well as national and international journalists. There was also a large presence of youth from the First Public High School in Warsaw, from the middle school nr. 23 named for Irena Sendler, as well as from the Lauder school.

Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka spoke for the President of the Republic of Poland: „In a moment, 70 of the 6066 Polish Righteous Among the Nations of the World, in the same way as 50 Righteous last year, will be honored, at the initiative of President Lech Kaczyński, with one of the highest of national decorations.

In recognition that during Hitler’s occupation, when every Pole could die while every Jew was already sentenced to death, they took upon themselves the Jewish fate. The most horrible fate in the history of the XX century. They entered hell, and of their own will stayed in it, despite fearing their own death and the death of those they wished to help, despite fearing the death of those closest to them, at times of all the residents of a building, and, at times, even of a whole village. And they stayed in this hell for a month, a year, sometimes two, or longer.

And though day and night they were afraid they might be found out and that they would all perish, they agreed to such a life. They decided on a stranger’s fate, a worse fate, even though they had their own, one which was a bit better, a bit safer, giving them a greater chance of surviving the occupation.”

The evening began with singing by Bente Kahan – a Norwegian singer and actress, one of the leading performers of Jewish songs in Europe. Throughout the latter parts of the ceremony the musical backdrop was provided by wonderful artists, among them Krzysztof Jabłoński, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Tomasz Strahl and Andrzej Jagodziński’s Trio. They performed pieces by Frederic Chopin in classical and jazz versions.

The ceremony was hosted by Maja Ostaszewska, directed by – Agnieszka Glińska.