President proposes memorial day to honour Poles who saved Jews
PR dla Zagranicy
President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday proposed that Poland establish March 17 as a national memorial day to honour compatriots who saved Jews during World War II.
President Andrzej Duda bestows state decorations on Poles who rescued Jews during WW II. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell
He said he was submitting a bill to parliament for this to happen.
Duda was speaking at ceremonies in Warsaw marking 75 years since the establishment of the Żegota Council for Aid to Jews, an underground institution that coordinated assistance to Jews in German-occupied Poland during World War II.
A number of Poles who helped save Jews from the Holocaust on Wednesday received state awards at the ceremonies at the presidential palace, during which Duda was accompanied by the First Lady, Agata Kornhauser-Duda.
"I would like us to observe a National Day of Remembrance for Poles who Saved Jews in World War II every year on March 17,” Duda said, addressing those gathered.
He added: "I have decided to draft a bill on this matter, which in the near future, within the next few hours, will reach the lower house of parliament and I hope that it will be approved there without undue delay."
Referring to World War II, Duda said “it needs to be clearly said who was the criminal and who was the hero, who showed mercy and who was the villain deserving condemnation.”
Duda used the phrase “a Commonwealth of Friends” to describe “the Poland that existed before World War II in which there were different nationalities living next to one another, but above all Poles and Jews co-existing side by side.”
The Żegota Council for Aid to Jews operated from 1942 to 1945. It included members of Polish and Jewish political organisations and worked to save Jews from the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland. (gs/pk)