Organizers and Participants of the
75th anniversary of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I cordially greet all those present at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute. I extend special greetings to the numerous distinguished foreign guests who have come to the international scientific conference which will mark the anniversary.
On this occasion, I would like to congratulate you and express my utmost appreciation and gratitude to the management, employees, and associates of this institution. Your significance for Polish and world heritage, science and culture cannot be overestimated. Thank you for caring for monuments and documents of the past, for your research, educational and popularizing efforts. Thank you for being great custodians of memory, and the Institute being a treasury of knowledge about the social, political, and religious life of Polish Jews. Finally, thank you for your immensely important contribution to the contemporary revival of the Jewish community in our homeland.
It is with deep affection that I recall the meeting with you five years ago during the opening of the permanent exhibition „What we’ve been unable to shout out to the world”, presenting the activity of the underground group „Oneg Shabbat”. The collections and studies by the patron of the JHI and his associates, hidden and excavated literally from under the ground after the war, have become the foundation on which the idea and ethos of the Institute are based. The institution's traditions go back even further – to pre–war times, when the Main Library and the Institute of Judaic Sciences operated in the building, then adjacent to the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie Street.
The temple – written in golden letters in the history of the joint struggle of Jews and Poles to preserve their identity and regain an independent state – was demolished by the Germans. The Holocaust brought deaths of almost all the Jewish inhabitants of the capital and the entire Republic of Poland. That genocide, unprecedented in the history of the world, will always arouse dread and terror. But the Nazis did not manage to destroy memory and truth. Thanks to heroes such as dr. Ringelblum, evidence of the crime survived and was used in post–war investigations and trials; it is also the subject of research conducted to this day. And the building has also survived – being a silent witness of the extermination of the ghetto there, the barbarism of the occupiers, the heroism of the dying and the epic of the survivors who avoided extermination in German death factories.
Once again, congratulating all the co–founders and friends of the Jewish Historical Institute on the anniversary, I sincerely wish that, through your service, this place would forever remain one of the main centers of tradition and memory, and contemporary Jews in Poland.
May the past – both the tragic from the war years and the more distant one, related to the centuries–long presence of Jews in Polin – continue arousing the interest and attention of young generations. It is the people, often discovering their roots here, who will create the future of the Jewish community in the Republic of Poland.