WARSAW, Poland – A monument commemorating Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust will be constructed near the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The monument construction committee made the announcement on Friday. The monument construction is scheduled to be completed in fall 2014.
The committee was initiated by Polish-Jewish businessman and philanthropist Sigmund Rolat.
“A monument commemorating Poles who saved Jews during the Nazi occupation was a dream of mine for many years. I believe that it should not be funded either by the Polish state, nor any Polish city. It should be the initiative of and with the money contributed by the Jewish communities,” said Rolat, who is a resident of the United States, during Friday’s news conference in Warsaw.
Scholars from the Polish Centre for Holocaust Research have objected to constructing the monument on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto, which is where the museum is located.
“Placing the Monument of the Righteous in the heart of the ghetto, in a way is in opposition to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, will be the triumph of national complacency and this is how it will be perceived around the world. There is no lack of space for monuments for the Righteous all over Poland, but the Warsaw Ghetto area should remain an intact sanctuary of the memory of the murdered Jews,” they said in a statement.
Representatives of the Polish-Jewish community also questioned the placement of the monument. ”The monument should, on the one hand, express the gratitude of the rescued Jews, while on the other the appreciation of the Polish Republic for those who were noble enough to oppose the Germans and their collaborators. Should this kind of monument stand in the Warsaw Ghetto, among many others, created at different times?” representatives of Polish-Jewish community – Elzbieta Magenheim, Jan Spiewak, Piotr Wislicki and Piotr Kadlcik – said in a statement.
The committee is composed of 27 people from different countries, among them Adam Rotfeld, a former Polish foreign minister; Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich; Shevach Weiss, former Israeli ambassador to Poland; and Samuel Wilenberg, a survivor of Treblinka.
In early November another plan was announced to build a different monument to Poles who rescued Jews during World War II. It will be built next year near the Church of All Saints at Grzybowski Square in Warsaw and is financed by the Warsaw city office and the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom.