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We, Poles, have a special duty ...
President Alexander Kwaśniewski

[Excerpt of a speech made by President of the Republic of Poland , Aleksander Kwaśniewski, on July 17, 2002 to the Jewish and Polish-Jewish communities at Georgetown University.]

We, Poles, have a special duty to care for the memory of the Jewish people tragedy, and about an extraordinary heritage of Jews living in Poland. Together with regaining freedom we started a difficult process of clearing our conscience and learning full, sometimes bitter, truth. A strong testimony of this was a discussion about a crime of Jedwabne, that shattered our conscience, but that also helped us realize that we can begin to build the future only if we base ourselves on complete historic truth. During the ceremonies commemorating the victims of the murder in Jedwabne I asked for forgiveness on behalf of those who understand well one cannot be proud with Polish history if one does not express regret for the evil Poles did to the others. I am saying it after the completion of the investigation conducted by appropriate judicial authorities in Poland. Despite a long time that has past since that moment, few witnesses and little evidence, the findings unequivocally state that the people from Jedwabne were murdered by their Polish neighbors. The confession of guilt and words of apology were very important to us. We remember about the victims and we feel shame for those who failed in the most trying moment - failed as humans and Poles. These painful experiences should not lead, however, to falsifying the history, or questioning Polish suffering. Let us remember that every third tree in Yad Vashem Institute has a Polish name, and a nightmare of the war was tragically experienced by the whole Polish Republic. The Nazi murdered nearly six million of Polish citizens, half of whom were Polish Jews.

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