More Honoured in Warsaw's Garden of the Righteous

Mateusz Szczepaniak, 5th June 2017
Natalia Gorbaniewska, Jan Jelinek and Roberto Kozak were today honoured in Warsaw's Garden of the Righteous, where trees were planted and stones, dedicated to them, were unveiled. Since 2014, the Garden honours heroes of the 20th and 21st centuries who, in the face of totalitarianism and genocide, had the courage to fight for human dignity, to come to the rescue of the victims or to fight for the truth. Our Virtual Exhibition "Righteous Without Borders. Acting for the Sake of Dignity and Human Rights" is dedicated to such individuals.

View our Virtual Exhibition "Righteous Without Borders”

The Garden of the Righteous in Warsaw Committee has this year decided to bestow the title of "Righteous" upon Russian poet and dissident Natalia Gorbaniewska, Czech pastor Jan Jelinek and Argentinian diplomat Roberto Kozak.

The announcement was made on 5th March 2017, during a gala event, at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, marking the European Day of Remembrance for the Righteous.

European Day of Remembrance for the Righteous Gala

The ceremony honouring these heroes took place on 5th June 2017 on Generał Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square in Warsaw's Garden of the Righteous. Relatives and friends of the Righteous took part in the unveiling of the memorial stones and the planting of trees.

"She cares about the living. She concerned herself, in particular, with politicial prisoners", said Natalia Gorbaniewska's son, Jarosław. "In today's Russia, there are those behind bars for political motives. There are also instances of torture. I think that the best way to celebrate my mother's memory would be to do something to help these political prisoners".

The inscription of her stone reads, "Russian poet, psychiatric hospital prisoner, who alone protested following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslowakia, who became a symbol of a free Russia".

Jan Jelinek is remembered with the words, "A Czech pastor who, in 1940's bloody Wołyń, helped those who were persecuted, irrespective of their nationality".

"He wanted that Kupiczów, where he was Pastor, not become a battle bridgehead, but be a biblical asylum, where people could find peace and rest", said his son, Rev. Mirosław Jelinek. "Whether it was a Jew, a German, a Ukrainian, a Russian or a Pole who came to him, Rev. Jan Jelinek, through his faith, simply performed his evangelical mission. I believe that this is something that is needed today. Every parish should be an asylum, a place to find love, safety and help. Every parish should be a place where the word of the Gospel has meaning. As Christians, let us give meaning to that evangelical mission".

The inscription on the stone in memory of Roberto Kozak reads, "An Argentinian diplomat, who dedicated himself to saving tens of thousands of Chilean citizens who were victimised by the Pinochet regime".

The stories of those Righteous, honoured today, is available on our new virtual exhibition "Righteous Without Borders. Acting for the Sake of Dignity and Human Rights”, created together with Dom Spotkań z Historią. Jolanta Gumula, POLIN Museum's Deputy Director, said, "Our exhibition presents the figures of those honoured in the Garden, those honoured as Righteous Among the Nations as well as those gave aid or who aid those in need of help in places of conflict around the world such as Wołyn, Rwanda, Chechnia and Syria. The conduct of the Righteous is not dependent upon time or place. It is universal, needed and present, even today".

New Virtual Exhibition "Righteous Without Borders”

Opened on 5th June 2014, Warsaw's Garden of the Righteous is modelled on the World Garden of the Righteous, opened in Milan thirteen years ago. To date, those honoured in Warsaw include Władysław Bartoszewski, Marek Edelman, Magdalena Grodzka-Gużkowska, Petro Hryhorenko, Jan Karski, Antonia Locetelli, Nelson Mandela, Hasan Mazhar, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Witold Pilecki, Anna Politkowska and Father Jan Zieja.

According to KARTA Centre Director and Chairman of the Righteous Garden in Warsaw Committee, Zbigniew Gluza, "Looking at the attitudes and activities of all these people, it is possible to say that they are an individual and universal response to evil - evil past and future".

View the Garden of the Righteous Ceremony video