Bartoszewski Władysław

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Biography - Bartoszewski Władysław

Władysław Bartoszewski was born in Warsaw. Already, as a teenager, he found himself in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Following his release from the camp in 1941, he became active in the Catholic Front for the Revival of Poland, as well as in the Home Army (AK). He worked in the Home Army Command’s Bureau of Information and Propaganda, as well as in the Internal Affairs Department of the Polish Government-in-Exile (Prisons and Jewish matters).

Faced with the extermination of Polish Jews, in December 1942, Władysław Bartoszewski, together with other social and political activists, formed the Polish Government-in-Exile’s Council to Aid Jews, known under the name of “Żegota”. The Council’s activities were financed by the Polish Government-in-Exile and the Joint Distribution Committee. “Żegota” was the only institution in the whole of occupied Europe established with the aim, in co-operation with the underground, of rescuing Jews. About “Żegota”, Władysław Bartoszewski would say, “I feel that ‘Żegota’ was an exceptional phenomenon. Namely, that it was the first organisation around whose table sat Zionist, Bundist, Catholic, Polish Democrat, Polish Socialist and peasant (both Polish and Jewish) activists, united against the Germans”.

Władysław Bartoszewski also took part in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

 Under Communist Poland, he was imprisoned and victimised. He made a huge contribution to the building of a democratic opposition in Poland. He played a significant role process of Polish-German reconciliation. The state of Polish-Jewish relations was also always important to him. As a diplomat, he served in many responsible positions, among them being Minister for Foreign Affairs in the government of Józef Oleksy. Until his last days, he served as a Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s office.

He was one of the first Poles to have received the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In 1991, he became an Honorary Citizen of the State of Israel.

In 1986, the President of the Polish Government-in-Exile presented him with the Commander’s Cross and Star of the Order of Polish Revival for, among other activities, his work regarding Polish-Jewish matters. In 2001, he was presented with the Federal Cross of Merit by the German government for his work in reconciling Germans, Poles and Jews. He was a member of the Council of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and supported the Museum’s educational activities. Each year, since 2012, he would meet with young people on the 4th December, the anniversary of the founding of the Council to Aid Jews “Żegota”.

He was the author of around forty books and more than twelve hundred articles, among which was the book entitled “This is My Homeland – Poles Helping Jews 1939-1945”, about Poles hurrying to aid Jews, at the risk of their own lives. 

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