On January 9th, in Warsaw, Gariwo’s and Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation’s representatives, along with a member of the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous Committee, Jozèf Wancer, instituted the International Garden of the Righteous Foundation.
The newborn Foundation is linked to the traditions and the activities of Gariwo Foundation, which has been honoring the Righteous of Humanity for the last 20 years, and to the precious work on Memory made by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, that has the aim of preserving the remembrance of the darkest moment in world recent history.
The International Garden of the Righteous Foundation, situated in Warsaw, proposes to commemorate and spread the message and the exemplar behaviours of the Righteous who, in Europe and beyond, saved lives or struggled for preserving the freedom and the dignity of mankind throughout different events, such as Nazism and Communism, genocides, mass murders and crimes against humanity committed during Twentieth Century and still occurring.
The International Garden of the Righteous Foundation - which is the keeper of the inheritance of people like the jurist who invented the term “genocide”, Raphael Lemkin, the founder of Yad Vashem’s Garden of the Righteous, Moshe Bejski, and the man who tried to warn the Great Powers about the Shoah, Jan Karski - will be working for Human Rights and for the worldwide spreading of democracy, by cultivating the memory of those who struggled for dignity and for Human Rights. The Gardens of the Righteous can be established in every part of the world, with the aim of remembering us that even in the most dramatic historical events the Righteous can appear, thus giving hope and stating at the same time a new commandment: no more genocide.
The Foundation will also manage the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous, founded in 2014 after an initiative had by the “History Meeting House” along with Gariwo Foundation and with the support of the Polish Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who promoted the event. The Museum on the History of Polish Jews (POLIN) is also a partner of Warsaw Garden.
Warsaw Garden of the Righteous has a symbolic meaning not only for the city in which it has been instituted, but for the whole world history also. The Garden is located in the square entitled to the general Jan (“Jura”) Gorzechowski, in the same area of the former Warsaw’s Ghetto, where 400.000 people were brutally exterminated during World War II. The Garden is situated on the backyard of Saint Augustine’s Church, which had been the only Church located in the Warsaw’s Ghetto to survive war destruction and in which Jews escaping from the Ghetto were able to find a refugee during World War II. Nearby was also located, in wartime period, the biggest orphanage for Jewish children of the Warsaw’s Ghetto, managed by Janusz Korczak. In addiction, Dzielina Street, which is situated in front of the orphanage, used to be the seat of the Zarist prison of Pawiak, in which around 100.000 Polish were killed during World War II. Janusz Korczak and Emanuel Ringelbum were also imprisoned in there, along with people who helped the Jewish population of Warsaw, such as Irena Sendler.
The following Righteous have been honored, until today, in the Warsaw Garden of the Righteous: 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 Armin Wegner, Antonina i Aleksander Wyrzykowscy, Liu Xiaobo, Jan Zieja, Adalbert Wojciech Zink, Mosze Bejski, Bronisław Geremek, Wilhelm Hosenfeld, Antonina i Jan Żabińscy.
Below you will find an interview made with the Executive Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, Wojciech Soczewica. It was made during a meeting in Milan, in which we were talking about the work of the Foundation and the common projects with Gariwo, starting with the establishment of the International Garden of the Righteous Foundation.