01 września 2017

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony in Wielun

A remembrance ceremony in Wielun

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President Andrzej Duda said that 78 years after the outbreak of the Second World War, there was a need for remembrance, forgiveness and atonement. The president was speaking at a remembrance ceremony held at 0440 hrs in Wielun, central Poland. On September 1, 1939, the town was a scene of the first German attack on Poland.

In his speech, Andrzej Duda said that "the biggest war in world history, in which the largest number of lives was lost, has two great symbols - both of them in our country".

May be of interest to you President: Poland will continue as peace defender in Europe, worldwide He pointed out the first of them was Westerplatte, where the first battle of WW2 took place, with Polish soldiers fighting heroically and inspiring the whole nation do defend its country.

The president added the second was Wielun, "but this is not a symbol of heroism. It's a symbol of bestiality, German bestiality. Of international conventions being broken. Of ordinary people being attacked treacherously, without any warning, without any notice, in their sleep".

"Of a hospital being bombed and places of worship being destroyed", he underscored.

Poland's head of state added that today, the bombing of Wielun "would be called a terrorist attack". "Bombing a city in its sleep is not war, it is barbarity and banditry", he said. "The attack on Wielun became a terrible symbol of that war and the methods employed by the Germans", Andrzej Duda assessed.

He pointed out not only the assault took place while Wielun was asleep, but the town didn't have any military force or facilities and was without defence.

The president reminded of the casualties of WW2, which surpassed 30 million civilians, including 6 million Polish citizens. "These were citizens of various nationalities, as Poland was, at the time, an ethnically diverse country. Ukrainians, Jews, Belarusians, Tatars and of course we, Polish people, lived here, but we were all citizens of the Republic of Poland, of the Polish state, whom the Germans decided to destroy", he explained.

"We must call a spade a spade. During WW2, nobody was treated by the Germans in the way they treated Jews, Roma and Sinti people, as well as the Polish people. They were destroying us ruthlessly", Andrzej Duda said.

He said nothing like that had happened before in world history and hopefully it would never happen again. Hopefully "that war was also a lesson for the world, about what comes from hatred, arrogance, totally unfettered cruelty".

The president also underlined nobody was ever punished for the attack on Wielun. He said that was why remembrance was so vital. "So I thank the residents of Wielun for your remembrance", Andrzej Duda added.

"We have to know and remember who was the victim and who was the murderer, who was the victim and who was the aggressor", he said.

"We must not let this truth be obscured by time or by the scheming of various historians or pseudo-historians", the president underscored.

"Whoever falsifies history is not a historian, but a pseudo-historian, because they contradict the beautiful scientific idea that is the science of history", he explained.

President Duda also pointed out there was a need for forgiveness, as it makes good neighbourly relations possible, and facilitates creation, not destruction. "And for this reason, there is a need for atonement", he added.

The president congratulated the people of Wielun on a successful reconstruction of a town which was reduced to ruin in three fourths of its area. "I thank you once again for remembering those who were killed and those who took part in combat. For communicating this truth to youth, because it is vital that the assault on Poland never happens again", he added.

"We must build a strong state. This strong state can be built, in the first place, with the power of youth. By educating them, instilling patriotic values in them", President Duda said.

"Honour and glory to the heroes, eternal remembrance for the fallen. I pay tribute to the fallen residents of Wielun and all the victims of WW2", the president concluded.

In the morning ceremony, Andrzej Duda was accompanied by parliamentarians, war veterans, religious officials, representatives of local governments and state institutions, as well as the people of Wielun.

A roll-call was also read out, followed by the firing of a honorary salvo.

Andrzej Duda laid flowers at a statue commemorating a demolished synagogue and at a memorial to the victims of the German bombing of Wielun. (PAP)

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