A Polish Academic Information Center Exhibit         
Warsaw: Life and Death in the Ghetto which the Germans established there during WWII

April 19, 1993.

The ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising take place at the Monumuent to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto. Poland's President Lech Wałęsa is accompanied by Dr. Marek Edelman, the surviving commander of the Uprising who is there with his five year old grandson. Also in attendance are Premier Rabin of Israel and the Vice-President Gore of the United States. Wałęsa delivers the commemorative address, in the following words:

"This is a special time. We stand below the monument to the Ghetto Heros.

We stand in the place where half a century ago a battle raged. One could see the smoke, one could hear the shots. The Jewish Fighting Organization had undertaken an unequal fight - the uprising had started.

The Warsaw Jews said - No! They demonstrated that there is a limit to humiliation. That human dignity in these times of contempt is based on the ability to dissent. That there is one freedom which it is not possible to take away from those who are downtrodden, disparaged and dishonored. That freedom is their choice regarding the manner of their own death. They undertook therefore a heroic struggle. Not for the right to live, but for the right to die with dignity. Here on the Vistula the genocide took place. Here is the earth into which seeped the blood of the fighters, upon which are scattered the ashes of the victims, where rest the bones of the murdered Jews. It is sacred land, for it is a cemetery.

* * *
To all the fighters of the ghetto, those alive and those who perished - I say today: your were not defeated.

You won!

The soldier wins not when the battle is won. He wins when the cause for which he fought is victorious.

Your cause is victorious, That is why today we stand under the monument to Ghetto Heros, a monument constructed of the granite which the Nazis acquired for a monument to Hitler.

Let us reflect deeply in its shadow. It is a symbol of the victory over those who wanted to degrade, to exterminate, to accomplish the genocide of a nation.

A sign of this inhuman idea was the ghetto's wall. A wall that divided a city, divided people. It was a sign of hate, a harbinger of genocide.

It starts with the building of walls. It starts with the division of people - into superior and inferior. From there it is a short step to the killing - and we must not forget that behind the killing there stood the Nazi ideology which guided the hand of the German torturer - guided it at the moment he shot the Jewish mother and her child.

Behind such crimes there is always an evil ideology. And the ideology can be uprooted. That is the tragic lesson of the Holocaust.

* * *
As the head of the state the citizens of which perished here, I bow my head to all the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto, both to those who are still among us and those who gave their life in the ruins of the Ghetto."


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