The Righteous 2018

Redakcja / Editorial staff / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 4th March 2018
On 4th March, the European Day of Remembrance of the Righteous, the names of those honoured with the title of Righteous 2018 were announced at a gala at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews: lawyer Rafał Lemkin who first coined the term "genocide" (from Greek and Latin roots), German Catholic priest Adalbert Wojciech Zink and genocide witness Ormian Armin Wegner. On 18th June 2018, trees will be planted and memorial stones will be unveiled in their honour in the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous, on Gen. Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square.

The names of three people, honoured as the Righteous 2018, have been announced by Zbigniew Gluza, Chairman of Wadrsaw's Garden of the Righteous .

"They are Righteous, but they are also people through whom this concept can be promoted into community life (...). Their attitudes have a universal dimension. They are powerful role models worthy of featuring in the Garden of the Righteous", said Zbigniew Gluza.

The biographies of those honoured were presented by Maja Komorowska, who read their texts and memoirs which have have been preserved. The artistic part of the gala featured the group Acoustic Actrobats. Among the more than three hundred guests were several Righteous Among the Nations, members of the "Children of the Holocaust" Association, ambassadors and representatives of cultural institutions.

The European Day of Remembrance of the Righteous was established by the European Parliament in May 2012 at the initiative of the Italian Garden of the Righteous Committee (GARIWO). The date, 6th March, is not coincidental. It is the day on which Mosze Bejski passed away. He was the Polish-born initiator of the Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem and the co-creator of the term Righteous Among the Nations. The concept of Righteous, which was first used by the Yad Vashem Memorial, today has a universal character. The title serves to remember those, not only honoured by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, but also all those who, when confronted by totalitarianism and genocide, have the courage to defend human dignity, aid victims and stand in defence of human rights.

The title of Righteous can be awarded posthumously. Each year, three people are selected (from an annual list of nominees) by the Garden of the Righteous Committee. Since 2014, those honoured in Warsaw's Garden of the Righteous, in Generał Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square, include Władysław Bartoszewski, Marek Edelman, Natalia Gorbaniewska, Magdalena Grodzka-Gużkowska, Petro Hryhorenko, Jan Jelinek, Jan Karski, Roberto Kozak, Antonia Locetelli, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Nelson Mandela, Hasan Mazhar, Witold Pilecki, Anna Politkowska and Father Jan Zieja.

The Righteous 2018:

Rafał Lemkin (1900-1959) – a Polish Jewish lawyer, creator of the concept of genocide as well as the Convention on Punishment and Prevention of Crimes of Genocide which, thanks to his efforts, was passed by the United Nations. The concept of genocide in Lemkin was rooted in "being a witness” to many dramatic events during the 20th century. Unlike in Poland, Lemkin is well-known in the West as the person who led to the formal acceptance of the principle that it is a crime to destroy national, tehnic, racial and religious groups.

Armin Wegner (1886-1978) – a German soldier and doctor during World War I, a writer and human rights activist, a witness to the Armenian genocide in 1915–1917. Following the end of World War I, in the "Berliner Tagblatt”, he published an open letter, directed to President Woodrow Wilson, in defence of the rights of the Armenians. In 1933, he stood indefence of German Jews, for which he was arrested and transported to a concentration cam. He is recognised in Germany as "the only writer in Nazi Germany who dared to speak about the persecution of the Jews”. In 1956, he was awarded the Order of Merit In 1967 the Yad Vashem Institute honoured him with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. A year later, the head of the Armenian church, Katolikos Vazgen I, honoured him with the Order of St. Gregory.

Father Adalbert Wojciech Zink (1902-1969) – a Catholic priest of German descent, deacon and provost of the Warmian Chapter, head of the Warmińskie Diocese, with the title of Vicar-General of the Primate of Poland. Despite pressure from various sides, he was the only one in the Church hierarchy not to sign the Episcopate Declartation in September 1953, which approved the arrest of Primate Stefan Wyszyński. He also would not allow his diocese to submit to the Communist authorities. He did not adjust his services to conform with official guidelines. He refused to fill Priest-Patriot positions. He eased tensions between locals and those returning from the East, as well  as amongst the clergy. He was arrested and spent sixteen months in Mokotów prison.

See our virtual exhibition "The Righteous Without Borders"

The stories of those honoured by the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous are presented in our virtual exhibition "The Righteous Without Borders – in Defence of Humanity and Human Rights", prepared by POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews together with the History Meeting House.

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Gala Organisers: History Meeting House, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Partners: Museum of Polish History, Gariwo

Nominations for the title "Righteous 2019" can be sent to the Anna Ziarkowska, Secretary of Garden of the Rightheous Committee: by 30th November 2018. Nominations must include a biography and substantiation. More information: