Commemoration at the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous

Redakcja/Editorial staff; English translation - Andrew Rajcher, 12th September 2022
On Monday, 26th September 2022, at 1:00 pm. at General Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square, new memorial trees will be planted and symbolic stones will be unveiled, dedicated to people who have been honoured, this year, with the title of “Righteous”. The Committee of the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous has decided to honour Mosze Bejski, Bronisław Geremek, Wilhelm Hosenfeld, as well as Antonina and Jan Żabiński. The seventh Warsaw commemoration will be accompanied by a concert, in POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, featuring Leszek Możdżer, Adam Palm and Tomas Sanchez. The event will be MC'ed by Jerzy Kisielewski.

“In these difficult times, we especially need the ‘Righteous’ – they give the world hope”, said Anna Ziarkowska, Secretary of the Garden of the Righteous Committee / History Meeting House.

Biographies of the 2022 Honoured as Righteous

  • Mosze Bejski – Israeli lawyer, judge and President of Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations Commission, initiator of of the Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem and co-author of the definition of “Righteous Among the Nations”. It is to him that we owe the methodology of verifying applicsations and the adoption of the criteria upon which decisions are made. He is also recognised as somone who has promoted the memory of the Righteous as an essential element of Holocaust memory.
  • Bronisław Geremek – historian, former Polish Foreign Affairs Minister, Knight of the Order of the White Eagle, winner of the Charlemagne Prize and co-creator of the process of Poland's peaceful transition to democracy. He was active in strengthening free Poland's position in the international area and in paving the way to membership in NATO and the European Union. In 2004, he was awarded the title of Officer of the Leion of Honour. He has been honoured with numerous high state and international decorations, as well as prestigious awards honouring his academic activity. This year, in accordance with a resolution of the Polish Senate, has been designated the “Year of Bronisław Geremek”.
  • Wilhelm Hosenfeld – Wehrmacht soldier, a “Righteous Among the Nations” and honoured with the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for helping Poles and Polish Jews during the occupation. About him, Władysław Szpilman said that “he was the only human being, in a German uniform, that he ever met”. Wilhelm Hosenfeld left behind diaries filled with stories of heartlessness towards others and conmpassion. However, his true legacy are the people whom he saved.
  • Antonina and Jan Żabiński – Jan was the founder and director of the Warsaw Zoological Garden. During the occupation, the Żabiński couple was active in many aspects of underground activity. They turned their home, in the destroyed zoo, into a sanctuary in which people and animals found shelter. Written after the war, in “True Survivor Testimonies”, we can read about the extraordinary dedication, courage and modesty of the former owners of the Warsaw Zoo. During the war, 300 Jews passed through their home. For the help they extended, Jan and Antonina Żabiński were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Who are the Righteous?

The title of Righteous is awarded posthumously to individuals who saved the lives of others or defended human freedom and dignity during Nazism and Communism, genocide, mass murder and crimes against humanity committeed in the 20th and 21st centuries. The names of those honoured are announced, earch year, on 6th March, the European Day of the Righteous. Selections are made by the Committee of the Garden of the Righteous from a list of submitted candidates. The Committee is comprised of outstanding people in the fieds of education and culture, as well as representatives of NGOs.

The Warsaw Garden of the Righteous

The first Polish Garden of the Righteous was established in 2014 at the instigation of the History Meeting House and the Italian GARIWO Foundation, with the support of the Mayor of the Wola District The site has special symbolism, having been built within the area of the former ghetto, near the Pawiak prison and St, Augustyn's church, which was the only building in Muranów to have survived in its entirety after the War. It is the only place in Poland that combines the memory of various events and experiences – it commemorates the Righteous of many cultures, religions and nationalities. The Garden is located at General Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square.

To date, those honoured are Władysław Bartoszewski, Hrant Dink, Marek Edelman, Natalia Gorbaniewska, Magdalena Grodzka-Gużkowska, Petro Hryhorenko, Julia Ilisińska, Jan Jelinek, Jan Karski, Roberto Kozak, Rafał Lemkin, Ewelina Lipko-Lipczyńska, Antonia Locatelli, Nelson Mandela, Hasan Mazhar, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Karol Modzelewski, Stanisław Pietrow, Witold Pilecki, Anna Politkowska, Emanuel Ringelblum, Arsienij Borisowicz Roginski, Raoul Wallenberg, Armin Wegner, Antonina i Aleksander Wyrzykowscy, Liu Xiaobo, Jan Zieja and Adalbert Wojciech Zink.

This year's ceremony will take place on Monday, 26th September 2022, at 1:00 pm. at General Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square. The eventy will be accompanied by a concert at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, featuring Leszek Możdżer, Adam Palm and Tomas Sanchez.

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Candidates for the title of Righteous may be submitted to the Secretary of the Committee of the Garden of the Righteous, Anna Ziarkowska: The application should be accompanied with a biography and supporting documentation.

Organiser: History Meeting House; 
Partners: GARIWO, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Przepis na Muranów; 
Project Strategic Partner: BNP Paribas Bank Polska S.A.