The commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Kielce Pogrom began with prayers at the graves of the victims in the Jewish cemetery in Kielce. There was also a March of Remembrance from the Menorah monument to the tenement house at 7/9 Planty Street, where the crime took place.
The ceremonies at the cemetery began with speeches delivered by Bogdan Białek – president of the Jan Karski Society and Włodzimierz Kac – chairman of the Jewish Community in Katowice. The prayers for the victims of the Pogrom were recited by:
Michael Schudrich-Chief Rabbi of Poland, Bishop Rafał Markowski – chairman of the Committee for Dialogue with Judaism of the Polish Episcopal Conference, Fr. Jacek Kopeć – representative of the Bishop of Kielce, Fr. Władysław Tyszuk – representative of the Bishop of the Orthodox Lodz-Poznań Diocese, Fr. Artur Aleksiejuk, priest in the Orthodox chapel dedicated to the holy martyr Archimandrite Grzegorz Peradze in Warsaw, Fr. Wojciech Rudkowski – pastor of the Evangelical-Augsburg Parish, pastor Damian Szczepańczyk – from Evangelical-Methodist Church, Fr. Michał Kokrysz and Mr. Krzysztof Bandoła-Skierski – from Evangelical Reformed Church, Marek Modroń – representative of the Mufti of the Republic of Poland, Abdul Jabbar Koubaisy – secretary of the Supreme Council of the Muslim League in Poland. Candles on the graves of the victims were lit by Michael Schudrich, Jarosław Sallin – Deputy Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport and Bogdan Wenta – Mayor of Kielce.
The March of Remembrance began at the Menorah Monument, which is dedicated to the Jews from the Kielce ghetto murdered in the Treblinka extermination camp in 1942. Bogdan Białek, the organizer of the commemoration, said: “In addition to all the words that we can address to you Jews on this day, in addition to words of regret, shame and repentance, let us also hear this one word that has not been spoken until today: thank you. Thank you for your being in the past and now. And I would like to express my hope and my wish: may you always be”. Then, Bogdan Wenta – mayor of Kielce, and Avi Borenstein – director and founder of the Jews of Ostrowiec Memorial Project, representative of Kielce Jews from Israel and New York – took the floor.
The next stage of the march was the Memorial Wall of the Righteous Among the Nations, located in front of the former synagogue in Kielce. Fragments of the Bible were read by Symcha Keller and Fr. Stanisław Jaromi. The names of the Righteous Among the Nations from Kielce and the vicinity of Kielce and the Jews they saved were recalled. Speeches were delivered by: Ms. Cherri Daniels – US Government Envoy for the Holocaust and Ms. Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, Israeli charge d’affaires in Poland.
Wreaths, flowers and candles were placed during each stage of the March. In addition to the above-mentioned guests, wreaths were laid by representatives of the Kielce City Council, the Institute of National Remembrance, the Second Generation Association – Descendants of Holocaust Survivors, the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, and the American Jewish Committee Center Europe.
We would like to thank the guests and the inhabitants of Kielce for their participation in the commemoration. We extend our gratitude to all those who contributed to the commemoration of the victims of the pogrom.