DEFECTIVE REMEMBRANCE CODES
Lidia Dudkiewicz, The Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’
In reference to the cavalry captain Witold Pilecki, I heard the term: ‘the saint of Polish patriotism’. The person of the heroic officer, a martyr of two totalitarianisms – the German and the Soviet ones, must be reminded all the time. Recently, it has been necessary in relation to the attacks of Israeli politicians on Poland, caused by accepting the bill novelization about the National Remembrance Institute by the Seym, assuming fines or imprisonment for using the term being a harm for our nation ‘Polish death camps’. Let’s remind that it was the cavalry captain Pilecki who wanted to show the world the truth about the German death machine, so he voluntarily became a prisoner – he let the Germans arrest him and imprison in Auschwitz. He was preparing a report on the camp of German genocide and made a plan of liberating the camp from the Germans. Unfortunately, nobody decided to do it.
At present there is a new chance to get to know the cavalry captain Pilecki better. Some work is being done on a feature film about his life directed by Lech Wosiewicz. Recently, in the Polish Radio 24, Fr. Mariusz Bigiel, a Jesuit Father, expressed his opinion that life of the cavalry captain Pilecki met criteria of heroic virtues. – Heroic virtues are one of requirements to beatify someone. Whoever reads his report on Auschwitz, where one can see his engagement in defence of another man, at the price of his life, cannot doubt that the cavalry captain Pilecki distinguished with heroic virtues – said Fr. Bigiel.
So, we have great heroes and real witnesses of history, like Witold Pilecki or Jan Karski, who risked their life to tell the world the cruel truth. Unfortunately, 73 years from the end of the war, there are still defective remembrance codes. It happens that victims are mistaken as executioners. In foreign media one can still hear the term ‘Polish death camps’. And now, when, finally, the issue of war reparations for Poland has been raised, there are attempts to enforce a belief in us about fascist tendencies. It is proven by the patriotic manifestation along streets of Warsaw on 11 November 2017. Whereas, recently, a lot is spoken about an incident from a few months ago, concerning a group of irresponsible people who decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of a German felon of all times Adolf Hitler, using, among the others, chocolate wafers for it. This silly incident was publicized by Polish media. The issue was joined to by German journalists. They began to write about the marginal event from Poland, but keep silent about dangerous acts of the Neo- Nazis in their own country (annually over 400 Neo-Nazis manifestations). Whereas Poland, being the first victim of German fascism, is stigmatized as ‘a brown centre of Europe’. Does it make sense? First, journalists should think on it, who are producing this nonsense and also politicians who allow for being drawn into this absurd game.
And now there is also a conflict with Israeli politicians about a record in the bill about the National Remembrance Institute being on the guard of real historical remembrance. It is necessary to remind that Poland and Israel made their common statement in November 2016 prohibiting using terms which might suggest that there were ‘Polish death camps’. Now, in relation to the attack from Israeli after enacting the bill novelization by the Seym about the National Remembrance Institute, the Polish government gave a statement in which we read: ‘Both Poland and Israel are the victims of the criminal policy of Germany. We were the victims of our neighbours’ aggression. We have experienced captivity and lack of state structures. The conflict who is responsible for Holocaust is fulfilling dreams of our enemies’. We should say truly: We are fed up with accusing Poles of the Germans’ crimes!
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
„Niedziela” 5/2018 (4 II 2018)