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„Dare to speak the truth”

Naming the forum of the IYMC in the honour of Władysław Bartoszewski

On June the 1st 2015 a ceremony took place in the forum of the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim to name it in honour of Władysław Bartoszewski. Among the many guests was the President of the International Auschwitz Council – Prof. Barbara Engelking, members of the council and Auschwitz survivors Halina Birenbaum, Marian Turski, Roman Kent and Kazimierz Albin, the Vice-Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Krakow Isolde Felskau, the Mayor of the city of Oświęcim Janusz Chwierut and members of the managing board of the IYMC.

“If a measuring unit for decency would exist – then it would be on Bartoszewski.” Said Marian Turski. He quoted the professor:” It is worth being honest, although it doesn't always pay off. It pays off to be dishonest, but it isn't worth it.” He paraphrased the thought of Horace: “Dare to know” in regard to Władysław Bartoszewski “Dare to speak the truth”. “Władysław Bartoszewski always talked a lot and he always had something new to tell, but one issue always reappeared. His confessions and talks with priest Zieja who told him: “If god made sure that you survived Auschwitz it is your duty to speak the truth.” Maybe it is exactly this story which young people should hear when they visit this place and the IYMC.”

The Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Piotr Cywiński noted –“ it is impossible to describe in a few words a person whom– apart from having a big memory, which he always carried around and could share it with other people, apart his big zest for action, had the skill to lead a dialogue without a generation gap becoming apparent.“ He remembered events at the university in Warsaw where crowds of people would attend. “There was no age barrier between him and the young people. In a place like the IYMC this is very important.” He underlined: “ The maxims the professor repeated over and over again: ”Be a realist, always demand the impossible.” and “let us do what we are able to because the things we are unable to do we won’t tackle anyway.” “These thoughts of Bartoszewski also reflect the experiences of the IYMC. Hence I am very glad about this initiative and would like to thank the IYMC for it.”

“Why are we so sad? After all he was an elderly man and passed away peacefully?” – asked Christoph Heubner, Executive-Vice-President of the International Auschwitz Committee and co-organiser of the event. “Why are we worried? Because there is something we are afraid of. Poland and Europe without professor Bartoszewski. Can we make something better? All we can do is to continue his work. We thought it would be a good idea in present day Europe to have a place which carries his name. To his many merits towards Germans counted – he was a realist, he liked people, he liked young people and he hoped that they will have a good future.”

It was a symbolic gesture that Alina and Marcin unveiled the sign, trainees from Volkswagen from Wolfsburg, Hannover and Poznan staying at the IYMC as part of an educational measure. Among the guests were also pupils from the Maximilian-Kolbe-Gesamtschule in Saerbeck. The musical accompaniment was performed by Aleksandra Szkuta, Weronika Lisowska pupils from Oświęcim School of Music and their teacher Anna Kubisz-Muła.

“We promise that the spirit of the professor will be present at every meeting in this room.” Said Leszek Szuster towards the end of the event. “ The attitude of Władysław Bartoszewski can lead the way to young generations, hence it was our aim to honour his legacy with the street sign in our garden which leads the way to the forum which carries his name.”

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