Taken from a speech given
by the President of the
Republic of Poland to the
Forum on the Holocaust
27 JANUARY is the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and hence of the few surviving prisoners of Auschwitz- Birkenau. I presume therefore that the timing of the International Forum on the Holocaust has not been chosen incidentally.
There were, unfortunately, more tragic places where the Holocaust came about: Chelmno as well as Treblinka, Sobibor and Sztuthof. However, the first and the largest of the camps, Auschwitz, became a symbol. It became a synonym of the evil born out of hatred and contempt for other people, for racism, xenophobia and anti- Semitism.
All those places designed for the annihilation of millions of people were constructed by human beings. They pursued their goals in the name of an insane ideology.
It was then that the world heard for the first time the ominous name of Auschwitz. Two years later the world irrevocably linked it with the tragic Birkenau. For a long time, it was not able to believe in what had happened there over the period of five years. Regrettably, it still does not understand it. Auschwitz and the entire experience of the Second World War remain a warning to all of us that in certain historical circumstances people become founders of institutions and systems of social and public life which can lead to genocide, to bureaucratisation of mass murder, to trivialising the evil.
There is therefore never enough reminding and making ourselves aware that in adequately prepared conditions people can become executors of immoral commands and anti-human goals. If people are treated as objects, the way is open to gas chambers. I take the view that the Holocaust must not be treated as an incidental episode in the history of Europe and the world. The Holocaust is an experience of our civilisation. Just like the Parthenon, like the Forum Romanum, like Hagia Sofia, like the Eiffel Tower - Auschwitz- Birkenau is also part of the heritage of the European civilisation. …