Monday, 29 April 2013 13:18

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Letter from Jacek Michałowski, the Chief of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland (July 4, 2012)

micghalowski_maleDear Organizers and Participants of the 66th anniversary of the pogrom in Kielce,

 

The Menorah Monument in Kielce - which is dedicated to the memory of the Kieltzer Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Second Word War - has an unusual shape. This sculpture is thought provoking. Passing by it one could surmise its meaning and symbolic. The half of the candlestick sticks in the ground and it is sloped. It symbolizes what happened to the Jewish culture and traditions during the Shoah.

 

Before the outbreak of the Second World War one of three residents of Kielce was of the Jewish origin. Here the Jewish trade and industry developed, the synagogue was build. Till today one can notice the remains of the Jewish culture – for instance the trace of the mezuzah in the door-post, the apartment house where before the war a Jewish family lived, the Jewish house of Prayer of Herszel Zagajski. The Jewish residents of the town – a highly respected merchant Mojżesz Pfeffer, Eli Rebełe who prayed so ardently that ordinary Jews thought he was almost a tsadik and Hanka Goldszajd who wrote the letters from the ghetto – they all remain in our memories.

 

The outbreak of the Second World War signified an irreversible end of the vivid world of the Polish Jews. The repressions, humility as well as the expulsions were an introduction to the Shoah. In 1941 the ghetto in Kielce came into being. One year later the Germans deported about 21 thousand people to the concentration camp in Treblinka. The last tragic events were the massive executions of men, women and children as well as the deportations to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. After the Second World War the tragedy in Planty Street in Kielce occurred which also today is hard to believe and which is very painful.

 

The pogrom in Kielce has been widely interpreted, analyzed and commented from the historical perspective. The knowledge on this topic helps to recognize the mechanism of the crime which happened years ago. Irrespective of the most recent results of the historical research one thing is for certain – on the 4th of July 2012 in Kielce about 40 innocent people were killed. It is very important that the residents of Kielce remember the tragic events - in spite of the fact that there had been a time in Polish history when no one talked about the pogrom. Fortunately it is different now.

 

The residents of Kielce - thanks to the support of the friends from abroad – managed to recall the common history of Poles and Jews. You succeeded to find a place in our consciousness. There are in Kielce the Marches of Remembrance and Reconciliation, the Christian-Jewish Meetings, there is the Jan Karski’s monument, the gymnasium under the patronage of the legendary courier Jan Karski. There are some people of good will led by the chairman of the Jan Karski Society, Bogdan Białek, who supports every initiative commemorating the traces of the Jewish society which had vanished. Kielce is now an open town which accepts the differences and diversity, it is a space for discussions and meetings, conversations in the spitit of respect and understanding.

 

The memory about the Jewish residents of Kielce remains, just like the Menorah Monument by Marek Cecuła, the Shoah and pogrom surviver. The upper part of the candlestick is the most important one because it is where during the holidays and events the candles burn. This part of the Menorah holds the fire which symbolizes life. Although the Menorah is sloped and the half of it sticks in the ground, it is eye catching and it does not allow to pass indifferently. It reminds of the people who are gone.

 

I would like to thank you very much for perishing the memory of the Polish Jews and for your work for the reconciliation. I wish you many interesting initiatives, thanks to which Kielce would still be associated with the friendly atmosphere and deep understanding of the Polish-Jewish relations.

Sincerely,

Jacek Michałowski

Warsaw, 2012-07-04

 

 

 

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