President Obama to attend MHPJ opening

“The President promised the he will come to the opening of the Museum with his daughters. He said that the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is an important project not only for Poles and Jews, but for the whole world,” this is how Agnieszka Rudzińska, MHPJ Director, reported on Barack Obama’s talk with MHPJ representatives.

On Friday, May 27th, Barack Obama laid flowers at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes’ Memorial, talked with representatives of the local Jewish community and became acquainted with MHPJ construction plans. Standing in front of the future home of MHPJ, he talked with Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, and Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw Mayor, who head the institutions which finance the construction, and with Agnieszka Rudzińska, MHPJ Director, Zygmunt Rolat, Distinguished Benefactor (whom President Obama invited on board Air Force One for the flight back to the United States), Marian Turski, Chairman of the MHPJ Council, and Piotr Wiślicki, chairman of the Board, Jewish Historical Institute Association.

Zygmunt Rolat presented the U.S. President with a commemorative plaque showing him in front of the Museum building and bearing an inscription testifying to his visit to the Museum on 27 May 2011. An identical plaque will be mounted on the wall of the Museum building. “I explained to the President that it will be an exceptional museum. It will not be devoted uniquely to the Holocaust and Jewish martyrdom, but also, at least to the same degree, to the 1000 years of history of joint Polish and Jewish existence on this land,” said Zygmunt Rolat after the meeting with the U.S. President.

Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz told Barack Obama that “the project is a museum of Polish and Jewish life together throughout 1000 years, and the Holocaust will be only one element of the exhibition.”  In her conversation with the President she stressed that “already 20 years ago everybody agreed that such museum should be built .”

Marian Turski told the U.S. President that “this museum is built for Polish youth, to make it aware what void Poland suffered as a result of the absence of its Jews; for Jewish youth, to make it aware of its roots; and for all people of the world, to make them understand how great was the contribution made by Polish Jews to European and world civilization.”  In turn, Minister  Zdrojewski was glad that President Obama not only wanted to lay flowers at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes’ Memorial but also wanted to see the nascent Museum. “MHJP is a challenge not only for our ministry but for the Polish state as a whole,” said the minister.

“It was an extraordinary encounter, President Obama had more time for us than we had expected,” commented MHPJ Director Agnieszka Rudzińska. “The President wished us successful completion of the Museum construction mission".