Fifth anniversary of Władysław Bartoszewski’s passing (1922–2015)

fot. Magdalena Starowieyska/Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN

"A great man, Polish patriot, friend of Jews and Germans. He was an inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp, soldier of the Home Army, historian and social activist. He was also a member of “Żegota” Council to Aid Jews who was named “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem Institute. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews will always remember him with utmost respect and gratitude.” That is how, five years ago, we bode farewell to Władysław Bartoszewski, a dear friend of POLIN Museum.

He supported the idea of building the Museum from its very onset. He was our advisor, and later a member of the Museum Council. He was an undisputed moral authority for many generations of Poles. Today, on the fifth anniversary of his passing, we recall his exceptional life story.

Throughout his lifetime, Władysław Bartoszewski impressed people with his engagement and attitude. His activities as a member of “Żegota” Council to Aid Jews, his involvement in the structures of the Polish Underground State, in the Home Army as well as his participation in the Warsaw Rising testify to the values he held dear.

A long list of the posts he held since the end of the war may serve as yet another proof of his social engagement—he was appointed, among others, ambassador and senator, Minister of Foreign Affairs (twice) and Secretary of State.

"Whoever disdains another human being—no matter if they do so for religious or racial reasons, or simply driven by xenophobia towards Ukrainians, Belarussians, Russians, Germans or Jews—they first and foremost disdain themselves" – Władysław Bartoszewski.

Towards the end of his life, Bartoszewski was member of the POLIN Museum Council. He supported our educational activities—beginning in 2012, each year on 4 December, he used to meet with the youth to commemorate the anniversary of establishing “Żegota” Council to Aid Jews.

We saw him for the last time during the ceremony on the 72th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. We listened to the wise speech he delivered in front of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, opposite the main entrance to POLIN Museum. He had a yellow paper daffodil attached to his coat—the symbol of our collective memory of the Uprising, handed out every year on that day by POLIN Museum volunteers.

He said: "This is not a statement of a representative of state administration. These are words of someone who was and still is a witness to unique historic events. I feel utterly fulfilled, being able to talk about these events 72 years on, also in the name of those who are no longer with us.".

He passed away five days later, on 24 April 2015, at the age of 93.

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POLIN Museum cherishes the memory of Władysław Bartoszewski with respect and gratitude. We also cherish the precious gifts he once donated to our collection.

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Władysław Bartoszewski’s passing, we encourage you to take a look at these objects, and to get acquainted with a more detailed biography of this great man on the Polish Righteous portal (