100th Anniversary of the Birth of Władysław Bartoszewski
Władysław Bartoszewski (1922–2015) was a friend of POLIN Museum. "As an advocate for its creation, he supported this idea not only in words, but also by deeds", stressed Marian Turski, Chairman of the Museum Council. "He was an advisor to its organisers. Among other things, he supported the fundraising for the creation of the Core Exhibition. He believed that the Museum of the History of Polish Jews should fill the void that remained in Poland after the Holocaust."
When he saw what was happening before his eyes, during the German occupation, he decided to join the "Żegota" Council to Aid Jews. In later years, as a historian social activist and politician, he was actively involved in Polish-Jewish dialogue.
Every year, on 4th December, the anniversary of the establishment of the Council to Aid Jews, Władysław Bartoszewski would meet with young people at POLIN Museum, to lay flowers at the "Żegota" monument, located near the entrance to the Museum. He particpated in every anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, for the last time on 19th April 2015.
POLIN Museum is the custodian of not only the memory of Władysław Bartoszewski, but also of the invaluable artefacts that he donated to the Museum’s collection in 2013. Presented to the Core Exhibition, they include the false identity card of Leon ¬Feiner – the leading representative of the Jewish resistance movement and the last chairman of "Żegota". Amongst the items donated is Władysław Bartoszewski’s Righteous Among the Nations medal, presented to him by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem.
Bartoszewski travelled twice to Yad Vashem – first in 1963, to plant a "Żegota" tree in the Garden of the Righteous and then in 1966, to plant his own. At that time, together with Zofia Lewinówna, he published a monumental and classic work entitled "Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej. Polacy z pomocą Żydom 1939–1945" (This one is from my homeland. Poles aiding Jews 1939–1945). The book, published in 1966 (it appeared in bookstores in April of the following year), established the canonical version of the Polish narrative about saving Jews.
Therefore, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Władysław Bartoszewski and the 55th anniversary of the publication of "Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej.".., we will take a new look at this book in a study on Polish Righteous website, where POLIN Museum documents stories of Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust and those who received that help in occupied Poland.
A collection of over one thousand stories of aid, including that of Bartoszewski, is presented on the website, against the background of the socio-political context of the German occupation of Poland, taking into account the complexity and diversity of Polish society’s attitudes towards the Holocaust.