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Komorowski attends Mauthausen-Gusen Nazi camp liberation anniversary

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 06.05.2013 07:00
President Bronislaw Komorowski has been in Austria for the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen-Gusen Nazi German concentration camp.

President Komorowski (right) with Austrian president Janos Ader on Sunday: photo - PAP Radek Pietruszka

The Polish head of state took part the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and opening of a permanent exhibition devoted to Henryk Slawik, chairman of the wartime Civic Committee for Assistance to Polish Refugees in Hungary who died in the concentration camp.

The ceremony was attended by Henryk Slawik’s grandson, himself a survivor of the Mauthausen-Gusen ordeal, as well as other former inmates and their family members.

Henryk Slawik was closely linked with the southern Polish region of Silesia. He took up arms in three uprisings against German occupants still before World War One.

When the Second World war broke out Slawik escaped to Hungary where together with Hungarian government delegate Jozsef Antaill he provided false identity documents to some 30 refugees from Poland, including five thousand Jews, thus saving their lives. He was arrested in 1944 by the Nazis when Hitler’s Third Reich took over Hungary.

In 1990 the Yad Vashem Memorial Institute in Jerusalem posthumously awarded Henryk Slawik with the Righteous Among the Nations medal. In 2010, also in appreciation of his wartime merit, Slawik had been honored with Poland’s Order of the White Eagle by the late president Lech Kaczynski.

Mauthausen-Gusen had been among the most notorious Nazi German concentration camps and was set up before the war in August 1938 and served the Third Reich till its liberation by American forces in May 1945, only days before the official end of World War Two.

Over 333,000 inmates went through its gates during that period. Records are not clear as to the exact number of inmates that perished there, ranging from 71 to even 122 thousand deaths. (ss/pg)

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