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Setting the scene for Warsaw Ghetto commemoration
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Several days after the Polish Prime Minister’s visit to Israel, President Shimon Peres will come to Poland for a four-day visit. He will take part in ceremonies to mark the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Michal Kubicki sets the scene for next week’s events
The anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising is already now among the top stories in Polish media. It is also very much in evidence in the streets of major Polish cities, with hundreds of billboards designed specially for the occasion by the prominent photo artist Ryszard Horowitz. The Polish Parliament adopted a resolution in which deputies paid tribute to the victims and heroes of the Uprising.
It was on 19 April, 1943 that a few hundred of Jews started their revolt against the occupying Nazi German forces. As the anniversary of the outbreak of the Uprising this year falls on the Jewish Sabbath and on the eve of the Passover festival, the commemoration has been brought forward to Tuesday, 15 April.
A minister of state in the Polish Presidential Chancellery Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka:
‘President Kaczynski wants the commemoration of the Ghetto Uprising anniversary to bring together Jews and Poles. Hence his invitation extended to President Shimon Peres. They share respect for the past and that’s why they will be together on that day.’
The two presidents will take part in the Jewish prayer for the dead at the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto. They are later scheduled to visit 98 year-old Irena Sendler who risked her life to save 2, 500 Jewish children during the Holocaust.
According to a Polish diplomat, Pawel Dobrowolski, Irena Sendler is among the greatest Poles of our time.
‘She is one of those unknown Polish heroes. She deserves to be perhaps as famous as Copernicus and Chopin. People watch Schindler’s List and they think that this was the ultimate sacrifice, her sacrifice and the things she did go further and much beyond that.'
The commemoration will bring together Jews from around the world. Renata Skotnicka Zajdman lives in Canada.
‘I survived the Warsaw Ghetto thanks to Żegota [the organization which offered assistance to Jews] and Irena Sendler’s friends. She worked in a climate of hate, indifference and hostility. She was working when honesty was a crime and decency was punished’.
A wide range of cultural events is also planned to the mark the anniversary. They include a concert by the Israeli Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta.
During his visit to Warsaw last year, he recalled his previous concerts in Poland.
‘I came here for the first time in 1976 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Our opening piece at that concert was De natura sonoris by Penderecki, a piece that was dedicated to me. That was a tour to celebrate the 200 years of the United States. I will never forget the first time at the Warsaw Opera House in 1987 with the Israeli Philharmonic. We came here not knowing how we would be welcomed and I can tell you the enthusiasm of your public filled our hearts.’
On Tuesday, Zubin Mehta will return to the same venue – the National Opera House.
On the anniversary of the outbreak of the Ghetto Uprising itself, Saturday 19 April, the Jewish community has invited Varsovians to attend the Passover festival, with traditional Jewish food and music.