President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday met at the presidential residence with a delegation of Polish veterans and Righteous Among the Nations, headed by Acting Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression Jan Józef Kasprzyk, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior and Administration Krzysztof Kozłowski, and Polish Ambassador Marek Magierowski.
The president welcomed the delegation to Israel and sent his best wishes to Polish president Andrzej Duda.
“The fact that this delegation includes ten Righteous Among the Nation is deeply moving,” Rivlin said. “We will always remember the courage, the humanity and the altruism beyond any national identity, that stood firm against tremendous pressure and saved lives. It touches us all, but especially the Jewish people. In the annals of Jewish history, the names of the Righteous Among the Nations will be written in letters of pure gold. Welcome.”
Janina Rosciszewska told the story of her family, who were Righteous Among the Nations. Earlier this week, she met Pavel (Pinchas) Wagner, who had been saved as a child during the Holocaust, thanks to her family. “As far as I am concerned, Pavel is my brother. One time when we thought we had been discovered, one of the Jews we were hiding asked my father if he would continue to help us. My father answered that either we will all live or we will all die. My visit here is my first opportunity to thank you, the Jewish people, for the gratitude you have shown us over the years.” At the end of her remarks, the president went over to Janina and embraced her warmly, thanking her on behalf of the Jewish people for the wonderful heritage of her family.
Kasprzyk told Rivlin: “It is a great honor for us to be here, together with the Righteous Among the Nations, particularly after our visit to Yad Vashem. It was tremendously fortunate that in that dark period, there were those who dared to save others and protect humanity. For many, this is their first visit to Israel and it is a deeply emotional moment. Let me stress that the wonderful cooperation between our two countries is very important in preserving global peace, and we must ensure that the barbarism that spread across Europe never returns again.”
The president responded, saying: “The fascism of the Holocaust era destroyed everything good in Europe, but we must allow the historians to tell that story. When we say ‘never again’, we are not speaking to ourselves: we know what to do to ensure the horrors of the past do not return. We built a country, we have a strong army, we are able to take care of ourselves. But the world must understand that anti-Semitism and neo-Fascism are genuine threats to us all. It is our duty to learn and to teach the next generations so that it never happens again. It was a president of Poland who said 20 years ago that things happened in Poland that should never have happened. Since then, we have been building our relations.”
The president added: “Today, terrible anti-Semitism and its expressions are on the rise as a political force in Europe. We are all worried. We must learn from history, but leave historical research to the historians, so that we can create a better world and ensure our children know a better reality. This meeting looks forward as well as remembering the past. Encounters like these are very important as foundations for our relations with the people of Poland and the Polish state.”