Warsaw Garden of the Righteous Memorial Event

Redakcja / Editorial staff / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 4th June 2018
Memorial trees will be planted and symbolic stones will be unveiled on 18th June 2018 in Gen. Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square in the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous in honour of the 2018 Righteous – lawyer and creator of the term “genocide” Rafał Lemkin, Catholic priest of German descent Adalbert Wojciech Zink and genocide witness Ormian Armin Wegner. The names of those honoured was announced on 4th March by the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous Committee during a gala event held at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The Warsaw Garden of the Righteous was opened in 2014. It is a place to honour those who, during the 20th and 21st centuries, in the face of totalitarianism and genocide, had the courage to defend human dignity. Each year, on the European Day of Remembrance of the Righteous (established by the European Parliament in 2012), the Garden Committee, during a gala event held at POLIN Museum, announces the names of those to be honoured with that title. The planting of the memorial trees and the unveiling of the symbolic stones takes place in the spring. 

This year's event will take place at the Garden of the Righteous on 18th June at 12.00 noon, on Gen. Jan Jur-Gorzechowski Square at Dzielna Street in Warsaw.

The 2018 Righteous:

Rafał Lemkin (1900-1959) – a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent, creator of the concept of “genocide” and of the convention of punishment and prevention of genocide which, thanks to his efforts, has been adopted by the United Nations. Lemkin's concept of genocide was born of “being witness” to many dramatic events in the 20th century. Unlike in Poland, Lemkin is well-known in the West, which led to the formal acceptance of the principle that it is a crime to murder national, ethnic, racial and religious groups.

Armin Wegner (1886-1978) – a German lawyer and doctor during World War I, and writer and human rights activist and 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, to President Woodrow Wilson, in defence of Armenian rights. In 1933, he rose to the defence of German Jews, for which he was arrested and transported to a concentration camp. Recognised in Germany as “the only writer in Nazi Germany who dared to speak out publicly 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 while, a year later,  the head of the Armenian Church, Katolikos Vazgen I, awarded him the Order of St.George.

Father Adalbert Wojciech Zink (1902-1969) – a German Catholic priest, Deacon and Provost of the Chapter of Warmia, head of the Warmia Diocese, with the title of Vicar-General of the of the Primate of Poland. Despite pressure from various quarters, he was the only member of the Church hierarchy not to sign the September 1953 Episcopate Declaration calling for the arrest of Primate Stefan Wyszyński. He did not allow the diocese to surrender to the communist authorities. He also did not adjust the tone of prayer services in accordance with official guidelines. He disagreed with the position taken by preiest-patriots and eased tensions between the local people ande those repatriated from the East and also amongst the clergy. He was arrested and spent sixteen months in Mokotów Prison.

Read more about this year's Gala of the Righteous

Seclected stories of those honoured by the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous Committee can be found in our virtual exhbition The Righteous Without Borders – Acting for the sake of dignity and human rights, whish was prepared by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in conjunction with the History Meeting House.

* * *

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

Partners: Museum of Polish History, Gariwo

Nominations for the 2019 Righteous can be forwarded to the Secdretary of the Gareden of the Righteous Committee, Anna Ziarkowska at.ziarkowska@dsh.waw.pl – nominations close on 30th November 2018. Nominations must be accompanied by a biography and suppport information for the nomination. For more information, see: www.sprawiedliwi.dsh.waw.pl