New institution to document crimes of genocide against Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has set up a Centre of Research into Totalitarianisms.
Magdalena Gawin (L) speaks to Pilecki's daughter Zofia (R), and son Andrzej (C). Photo: mkidn.gov.pl
Its goal is to give a fresh stimulus to studies into German and Soviet crimes against Poles and to promote the results of such research internationally.
According to Poland's deputy minister of culture and national heritage, Magdalena Gawin, the idea is to overcome an information barrier and demonstrate to the Western European public the extent of genocide in occupied Poland on the basis of documents and eyewitness testimonies.
Addressing a conference inaugurating the centre, Gawin said that research into the German occupation of Poland has practically come to a standstill. She cited as an example the Wola Massacre, the systematic killing of up to 50,000 people in the Wola district of Warsaw during the early stage of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
“There has been a single study on the subject so far”, she said.
The first project to be launched by the Centre is called “Accounts of Terror. Testimonies before the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes and the Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation”.
The testimonies of Polish witnesses of German and Soviet crimes, which are to this day treated as so-called prosecution files and therefore remain confidential, will be made available, in their original Polish version and an English translation, on a website.
The Centre has been named after Captain Witold Pilecki, one of the greatest Polish war-time heroes, who in September 1940 allowed himself to be arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz, from where he managed to send reports about the conditions in the camp and the extermination of European Jews. A victim of two totalitarian systems, he was executed by the communist authorities in 1948.
Captain Pilecki’s daughter, son and nephew were present at a ceremony inaugurating the Centre. (mk/rg)