Platform for Jewish-Polish Dialogue  

President Obama Pays Tribute to Holocaust Rescuers from Poland

24 April 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama addressing those gathered at the ceremony in Washington, D.C.
U.S. President Barack Obama addressing those gathered at the ceremony in Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, April 23, President Barack Obama spoke at the Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony at the Capitol urging the world not to tolerate the hatred and injustice that can lead to such horror as the Holocaust.  The President paid tribute to those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust, including five Righteous Among the Nations from Poland visiting New York City and Washington, D.C. during the Holocaust Remembrance Days : Alicja Schnepf-Szczepaniak, Józef Walaszczyk, Tadeusz Stankiewicz, Ireneusz Rajchowski and Anna Stupnicka-Bando. "We are awed by your acts of courage and conscience," the President said. "And your presence today compels each of us to ask ourselves whether we would have done what you did. We can only hope that the answer is yes." 

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as America's annual commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust. In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Days, a group of five Polish Righteous Among the Nations and two Holocaust survivors (members of the Polish Association of the Children of the Holocaust) are visiting New York City and Washington, DC, April 15-23.  In New York, the group participated in the dedication of "Jan Karski Corner" outside the Polish Consulate on the corner of 37th Street and Madison Avenue.  In Washington, the group will share their stories at U.S. governmental institutions, universities and nongovernmental organizations, including the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. Department of State, the American Jewish Committee, and Georgetown University.
click here for photos and short bios of the Righteous and Survivors.

On Wednesday, April 22, The Washington Post published a front-page photo of the Polish Righteous visiting Washington, D.C. In the photo, Alicja Schnepf-Szczepaniak, Józef Walaszczyk, and Tadeusz Stankiewicz view the "Tower of Faces" exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. The other rescuers attending the events in the United States are Ireneusz Rajchowski and Anna Stupnicka-Bando. Two survivors: Krystyna Budnicka and Barbara Góra are also present. On Thursday, April 23, they are among those attending a Holocaust Remembrance event at the Capitol with President Obama.

The group of the Righteous is accompanied by a number of high ranking officials from the Polish government, including Secretary of State Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka (Polish President's Cabinet Member), Ambassador Robert Kupiecki (Polish Ambassador to the United States) and Ambassador Maciej Kozłowski (special representative of the Polish Foreign Ministry). On the nongovernmental side, the group will be joined by Ms. Ewa Wierzyńska (Deputy Director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews) and Mr. Andrzej Folwarczny.

In accordance with its Congressional mandate, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is responsible for leading the nation in commemorating the Days of Remembrance, and for encouraging and sponsoring appropriate observances throughout the United States. Observances and remembrance activities occur during the week of Remembrance that runs from the Sunday before Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) through the following Sunday. Days of Remembrance are observed by state and local governments, military bases, workplaces, schools, churches, synagogues, and civic centers.  In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah.  In 2009, Holocaust Remembrance Day will be observed on April 21. The internationally recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar.  It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.


Consulate General of the United States in Kraków