President Andrzej Duda took part today in the March of the Living on the site of the former German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz– Birkenau.
Address during the ceremony held at the International Monument to the Victims of Fascism:
Distinguished Madam President,
Distinguished Chairman of the March of the Living,
Honourable Mayor of Jerusalem and Mrs. Lion,
Excellencies, Honourable Rabbis,
All Distinguished Guests,
Honorable Participants of the March of the Living, our Dear Friends from Ukraine included,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The meaning of this event, the March of the Living, is very poignant; it is always a profound experience. And yet, even if the March is always inspiring reveries and a sense of grief, it is a living event: the event which speaks about the victory of life.
Those who take part in the March demonstrate that even the worst authoritarianism, impersonated by the German Hitler’s ideology, by the Nazism, which strived to destroy and murder all the Jewish People and annihilate tens of other nations, is not able to prevail over the will to live, to survive and to persist.
As I was walking here among you from the Auschwitz camp to the Birkenau camp, I had a sense of profound responsibility of acting on behalf of the Polish nation and the Polish people, also historically taken, and in the administrative sense of the word, acting on behalf of Polish citizens.
It must be remembered, after all, that here, in the extermination camp Auschwitz–Birkenau Polish citizens of Jewish nationality were losing their lives but also those of Polish nationality. In total, in the course of World War 2, my home country, Poland, lost 6 million citizens, out of whom 3 million were Polish Jews mercilessly slaughtered by the Nazis.
I walked here arm to arm with Mr. Edward Mosberg, who was born in Krakow, the city where I was born 47 years later, not far away from here. Only because he was born to a Jewish family, only because he is a Polish Jew, the German Nazis sought to kill him and incarcerated him, a young boy back then, together with his family in the concentration camp, to have them slain.
Walking today in the March of the Living, I had this profound sense of also representing other Polish citizens, like Edward, who could not be with us today – for many reasons – either because they were murdered by the Germans or because they passed away and are no longer with us. This makes the presence of all Survivors even more precious.
I want to thank the Chairman of the March of a Living and Madam President of the March of the Living for recalling in their opening addresses, at the beginning of the event, the Russian assault on Ukraine, the suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people nowadays, and for noting the fact that we have been joined here today by our guests from Ukraine: truly speaking they are refugees those who managed to flee the war and death at the hands of the Russian invaders.
The reason I refer to them is not only the ongoing warfare. I do so because we always reiterate that we denounce all forms of hatred; and we participate in the March of a Living and commemorate Holocaust victims trying to make sure nothing like that ever happens again in the world. We all express it with our full conviction. We realize down to the ground that those atrocious, unimaginable crimes were born out of hatred instilled in the German nation. The nation which prided itself in such a great culture and grand history. It is extremely difficult to imagine all of that.
With the same sense of incredulity do we listen to and read out the stenographic records of telephone conversations that ordinary Russians have with their relatives: the soldiers fighting in Ukraine as part of the Russian aggression. These are phone calls from ordinary people and what emanates from them is hatred, often one can hear statements that Ukrainians should be annihilated. It is beyond any comprehension, it is incredible.
After the experience of the Jewish People in World War 2, after the experience of other nations: Polish, Roma, Sinti, and Russian as well, how on earth can anyone behave like that? After all the speeches from the Russian leaders in this very place, when they proudly recalled that it was the Red Army who liberated the camp, how could they today go as far as bombarding the Babi Yar, the place where Ukrainian Jews were murdered in World War 2, were tens of thousands of victims are buried. And yet Russian bombs have fallen on that very site! How come?!
We are arriving here and taking part in the March of the Living to pay tribute to those murdered but also to demonstrate not only that the State of Israel and the Jewish People exist but that they have the right to exist. We come here to demonstrate that as much as Hitler’s German forces in World War 2 were able to raze my country, Poland, to the ground, wipe it out from the map, and murder Poles and also Polish Jews, we will never again allow this happen again. To this end, we also take special care of this place of remembrance.
We are here today also to make it very clear that there is no consent to any attempt on Ukraine’s freedom, no consent to impunity when the Ukrainian people are murdered, as they are today on the occupied territories of Ukraine. We are here to show that every nation has its sacrosanct right to live, has the sacrosanct right to nurture its traditions, and the sacrosanct right to develop.
And we shout out our NO to hatred! NO to anti–Semitism! NO to anti–Ukrainianism! NO to anti–Polonism! NO to hatred! Never will we come to terms with them, never will we accept them, we will always fight these phenomena with all our might. The one who fails to understand it should not belong to international community of decent states and nations. The one who commits murders, who violates international law, must be held liable, severely and unconditionally.
No more war! No more Holocaust! May the memory of those murdered live eternally! May the memory of all victims of hatred live eternally!