The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association took part in the ‘Rally of Decency’, an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski’s birth on 19 February 2022.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski (born on 19 February 1922 – died on 24 April 2015) was a journalist, historian, writer and politician. From September 1940 to April 1941 he was a prisoner of KL Auschwitz. In the years 1942-1944 he co-organized the secret Council to Aid Jews (‘Zegota’) and participated in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war, he worked with the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. He became the chairman of the International Auschwitz Council. Among other awards, Bartoszewski received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his work for reconciliation between Poles, Germans and Jews. He was also awarded the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ medal. In the last years of his life he was an outspoken critic of the re-emergence of far-right nationalism.
During the rally, invited representatives of civil society commented on seven messages that Wladyslaw Bartoszewski espoused: ‘Be open’, ‘Do not get carried away by hatred’, ‘Remember’, ‘Be true to yourself and your own convictions’, ‘Get involved for the benefit of others’ and ‘Search for ways of understanding’. On behalf of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association Dr. Anna Tatar spoke about the value of ‘not being indifferent’: ‘Throughout his life, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski opposed hatred and built a dialogue between nations and people, even when it seemed impossible. May we be able to imitate him in this regard.’
The other speakers included former Ombudsman Adam Bodnar, a long-time supporter of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. The jazz singer Aga Zaryan performed a song with lyrics by Krystyna Krahelska, a young poet who died during the Warsaw Uprising. Actor and writer Joanna Szczepkowska recited a Holocaust-themed poem by Czeslaw Milosz entitled ‘Campo di Fiori’.
The event took place on Bartoszewski Square by Biala Street in Warsaw. During the Nazi occupation, the street was adjacent to the Warsaw Ghetto. It led to the court building in Leszno (today Aleja Solidarnosci), where Jews could secretly exit to the ‘Aryan’ side with the help of organizations such as Zegota, in which Wladyslaw Bartoszewski was active.
In the square named after him, a monument is going to be erected of the young Bartoszewski on a bicycle. The following inscription will be placed next to the monument: ‘Young Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, after leaving the concentration camp, became involved in helping persecuted Jews, and working for Poland. He was also able to combat the hatred towards the German nation within himself. It shaped him for life.
By a resolution of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, 2022 was proclaimed the Year of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski. The celebrations, organized by the Wladyslaw Bartoszewski Square Association, began on 19th February.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. It is a member of the Alliance Against Genocide made up of over 65 organizations from around the world.