The 8th edition of the commemoration ceremony in the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous was held on 26 September 2022. The event also featured an evening concert performed by Leszek Możdżer, Adam Palma and Tomas Sanchez. Both events were hosted by Jerzy Kisielewski.
- On Monday, September 26 the History Meeting House planted trees and unveiled memorial stones for this year’s Righteous. Laudations were read by:
• for Moshe Bejski: Francesco M. Cataluccio (representative of the GARIWO Foundation in Milan, writer and publisher)
• for Bronisław Geremek: Adam Michnik (publicist and historian, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza)
• for Wilhelm Hosenfeld: Wacław Oszajca (Jesuit, writer, poet, publicist) and Michał Jabłoński (pastor of the Evangelical Reformed Parish in Warsaw)
• for Antonina and Jan Żabiński: Andrzej Kruszewicz, Ph.D. (director of the Warsaw Zoological Garden).
The ceremony took place in the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous on the Gen. Jan Juro-Gorzechowski Square.
The event also included an evening concert for the Righteous performed by prominent jazz musicians: Leszek Możdżer, Adam Palma and Tomas Sanchez. The concert was held in the auditorium of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is the co-organizer of the event.
As the Secretary of the Committee of the Garden of the Righteous, Anna Ziarkowska, emphasizes: “During these difficult times, we need the Righteous even more as they give hope to the world”.
Who are the Righteous?
The title of Righteous is awarded posthumously to people who saved the lives of others or who defended human freedom and dignity during nazism and communism, genocides, mass murders, and crimes against humanity committed in the 20th and 21st centuries. Each year, the names of the honoured are announced on 6 March, the European Day of Remembrance for the Righteous. They are chosen by the Committee of the Garden of the Righteous from among the submitted candidacies. The Committee consists of prominent individuals from the world of education and culture, as well as representatives of NGOs.
People awarded the title in 2022:
- Moshe Bejsky (1920-2007) — Israeli lawyer, judge and chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Israeli Yad Vashem Institute, initiator of the Gardens of the Righteous in Jerusalem and co-author of the term “Righteous Among the Nations”. It is to him that we owe the methodology of verifying submissions and adopting the criteria for selection, as well as recognizing the popularization of the memory of the Righteous as an essential element of the Holocaust remembrance.
- Bronisław Geremek (1932-2008) — historian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Knight of the Order of the White Eagle, winner of the Charlemagne Prize, and co-author of Poland’s peaceful transformation towards democracy. He worked to strengthen Poland’s position on the international scene and pave the way for the country’s membership in NATO and the European Union. In 2004, he was awarded the title of an Officer of the Legion of Honour; he also received numerous high state, international and prestigious awards for his academic work. 2022 has been announced the Year of Bronisław Geremek by the Senate of the Republic of Poland.
- Wilhelm Hosenfeld (1895–1952) — soldier of the Wehrmacht, awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for helping Poles and Polish Jews during the occupation. Władysław Szpilman called him “the only human in a German uniform he has ever met”. Wilhelm Hosenfeld left behind journals filled with accounts of both callousness and compassion for others, but his true legacy is the people he saved. Antonina (1908–1971) and Jan (1897-1974) Żabiński — Jan was the founder and director of the Warsaw Zoo. During the occupation, the Żabiński marriage were involved in many conspiracy operations, and turned their home in the destroyed zoo into a place where both people and animals found shelter. In the Holocaust Survivors Testimonies written after the war, we can read about the extraordinary determination, courage and modesty of the former hosts of the Warsaw Zoo. During the war, 300 people of Jewish origin passed through their house. For their help, Jan and Antonina Żabiński were awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Warsaw Garden of the Righteous
The first Polish Garden of the Righteous was established in 2014 in Warsaw on the initiative of the History Meeting House and the Italian GARIWO Foundation, with the support of the Mayor of the Wola District. This place is particularly symbolic, as the Garden was established in the area of the former ghetto, in the vicinity of the Pawiak prison and the Church of St. Augustine, which was the only building that survived the post-war conflagration in Muranów. It is the only place in Poland that combines the memory of various events and experiences as it commemorates the Righteous of many cultures, religions and nationalities.
The Garden is located on the Gen. Jan Jura-Gorzechowski Square. Those awarded the title in previous years include: Władysław Bartoszewski, Hrant Dink, Marek Edelman, Natalia Gorbaniewska, Magdalena Grodzka-Gużkowska, Petro Hryhorenko, Julia Ilisińska, Jan Jelinek, Jan Karski, Roberto Kozak, Rafał Lemkin, Ewelina Lipko-Lipczyńska, Antonia Locatelli, Nelson Mandela, Hasan Mazhar, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Karol Modzelewski, Stanisław Pietrow, Witold Pilecki, Anna Politkowska, Emanuel Ringelblum, Arsienij Borisowicz Roginski, Raoul Wallenberg, Armin Wegner, Antonina and Aleksander Wyrzykowski, Liu Xiaobo, Jan Zieja, and Adalbert Wojciech Zink.
Organizer: History Meeting House
Partners: GARIWO Foundation, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Przepis na Muranów
Strategic partner of the project: BNP Paribas