Open Letter regarding Jedwabne
to member and sympatizers of the Polish Democratic Left.
[The following is an unofficial translation by Peter K. Gessner of the statement by SLD party - which currently enjoyes the highest plurality in national polls - as reprinted in the Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza on March 15, 2001. -- A large collections of Polish language articles published about Jedwabne by the Warsaw daily, Rzeczpospolita can be reached by clicking on the banner.]
Sixty year ago almost the entire Jewish population of the township of Jedwabne perished at the hands of its Polish neighbors. This crime was not committed in the name of the Polish nation, but consciousness of it, after over half a century of silence, is returning today with manyfold greater force
Every nation has its reasons for pride and shame, has its heroes and its blackguards. Poles are not the exception, though this truth is one that we come to accept with difficulty.
We inherit from previous generations not only greatness and honor. Also unwothy and sometimes shameful acts.
A nation that wishes to draw from the beautiful pages of its history, must also have the courage to stand face to face with its own weakensses. Since we are a strong and important nation in Europe, we cannot hide our errors nor engage in a cowerdly search for excuses.
The murders in Jedwabne are the reason for our pain and shame. There is no justification nor can there be any for the crime and the infamy.
We take a stand for the exposure and elucidation of all event of this kind in Poland's most recent history, regardless of their scale and character. This has to be done straightforwardly, rapidly and without insinuations. The national memory should not be selective, irrispective of how painful this can be for the current generation of Poles. This partains to all the crimes committed on Polish land, regardless of ideology to which they might pertain.
As a nation we bear the reponsability for how we will relate to our history and what resolves we derive from it for the future.
Unhappily, in today's Poland, we also encounter manifestations of hatred, intolerance and contempt for people of different races, religons or views. Warnings and lessons should surface from the drama of Jedwabnefor the current generations.
Poland's left feels a particular responsability in this regard. Openess, tolerance, respect and the defence of all minorities is, after all, the world of our values.
We may not pass, unconcerned, by people who are being abused and descriminated against.
We may not keep silent, when words that sow hatred are uttered.
We may not permit that the younger generation be brought up with contempt for other nations.
Together with the passing of the tewentieth century, tragic for Jew and Poles, has come the time for the relations between us to gain a new dimension. What are needed are new incetives, new fields, upon which cooperation,directed at the future, will be possible. A common history and common suffering unites us. It's time for the promises and opportuniyies of the new century to unite us.
Poland is a country with history streching back for more than a millenium. For centuries its lands were inhabited jointly by people of different nations and religions. We should take care no to lose the heritage of our multicultural traditions. For that reason the Alliance of the Democratic Left supports an initiative to erect a Museum-Monument of History of Polish Jews, as a testimonial to the presence of Jews in Poland's history and on Polish lands.
SLD expects from elected local authorities, at all levels, particular care over places of common Polish-Jewish history
The National Council of the Alliance of the Democratic Left.
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