Ceremony at the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous

Redakcja / Editorial staff / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 18th June 2018
Rafał Lemkin, Armin Wegner i ks. Adalbert Wojciech Zink were today honoured at the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous with the planting of memorial trees and with stones unveiled in their honour. Since 2014, the Garden has honoured the memory of 20th and 21st century heroes who, in the face of totalitarianism and genocide, had the courage to defend human dignity, to help the victims and to defend truth.

This year, the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous Committee decided, in bestowing the title, to honour lawyer Rafał Lemkin, Armenian genocide witness Armin Wegner and German Catholic priest Adalbert Wojciech Zink. The announcement of those to be honoured was made on 4th March 2018,  during the annual European Day of Remembrance of the RIghteous held at the POLIN Museum.

Read the biographies of the 2018 Righteous


The ceremony honouring this year's heroes took place on 18th June at Warsaw's Generał Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square. Participants in the ceremony included Warsaw Deputy Mayor Włodzimierz Paszyński, Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Maja Komorowska, Father Wacław Oszajca, as well as member of the Garden of the Righteous Committee and students from the Father Wojciech Zink Junior High School in Gietrzwałd. The memorial stones beneath the memorial trees wer unveiled by family and friends of the Righteous.

In unveiling the memorial stone honouring Rafał Lemkin, Alicja Bartuś of the International Youth Meeting House in Oświęcim said, "He proved that he was able to change the perception of international law which led to change". The inscription on the stone reads: A Polish lawyer who, having avoided the Holocaust, defined "genocide" and mobilised the world to fight it - a law which opposed lawlessness.

"It is important that an individual, who is a witness to events, speaks, informs and testifies to it", said Misza Wegner, who unveiled the stone in memory of his father Armin Wegner. The inscription on his stone reads:  German serviceman who, as a witness to the Armenian genocide, rejected the silence about Turkish crimes and, years later, of Nazi Germany.

The inscription in memory of Father Adalbert Wojciech Zink reads: A Warmian priest, a German citizen, later a Polish citizen, an indomitable individual, a prisoner of the PRL who united people and nationsa zapisano: „warmińskiemu księdzu, obywatelowi niemieckiemu, potem polskiemu, człowiekowi niezłomnemu, więźniowi PRL, który łączył ludzi i narody”. His stone was unveiled by the head of the Gietrzwałd community, Jan Kasprowicz.

The Chairman of the Garden of the Righteous Committee said, " It seems that these attitudes of people towards all the worst dimensions of 20th and 21st century history are already a panorama of the Righteous - such a response to the world of crime and evil which can be treated, not only as individual models of attitudes, but also as a way of responding to evil. (...) I am convinced that these three people are extremely strong models of these attitudes".

The stories of those choden to be honoured by the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous Committee our presented in the "Righteous Without Borders - Acting for the Sake of DIgnity and Human Rights", prepared by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews together with the History Meeting House.

View the "Righteous Without Borders" Virtual Exhibition

Nominations for the 2019 Righteous can be sent to the Secretary of the Garden of the Righteous Committee, Anna Ziarkowskia, at a.ziarkowska@dsh.waw.pl until 30th November 2018. The nomination must be accompanied by a biography of the person and supporting documentation. For more information, go to: www.sprawiedliwi.dsh.waw.pl