“We Are Together” for tenth time

On 19th September, youth from Poland and Israel as well as representatives of Polish and Israeli governments and local government met for a tenth time to pay their respects and commemorate people murdered in the Extermination Camp Treblinka II. The meeting “We Are Together” is a common project organised by Mazowieckie Province Office and Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN together with Israeli Ministry of Education. The partners of this project are mayor of Kosów Lacki and Treblinka Museum. The Nazi German Extermination and Forced Labour Camp (1941-1944).

Like each year a several hundred of students from Poland and Israel took part in this meeting which included integration and educational workshops organised for them in White Eagle High School in Kosów Lacki. The goal of this workshops is to integrate youth from both countries through historical education and provide them with an insight on the history of the Extermination Camp.  Throughout the workshops young people had also an opportunity to talk about their shared history and get to know each other’s culture and language. During the classes a presentation entitled “Aaron Elster – Survivor from Sokołów Podlaski” was shown, which was prepared by the students of Maria Curie-Skłodowska High School in Sokołów Podlaski.

The official ceremony began with laying wreaths by the Gravel-Pit and by the monument to the Victims of the Penal Labour Camp.

After paying respect at the Execution Site gathered guests moved to the grounds of the Extermination Camp. The ceremony began with minute of silence. Then the Representative Orchestra of the General Police Headquarters played anthems of Israel and Poland. The invited guests lighted six candles, which commemorate six millions of Holocaust victims, at the Monument to the Victims of The Extermination Camp.

  • Candle of Memory was lighted by Zdzisław Sipera, Mazowieckie Province Governor,
  • Candle of the Righteous was lighted by Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, Charge d’Affaires ad interim from Embassy of Israel in Poland,
  • Candle in Memory of Janusz Korczak was lighted by Zygmunt Stępiński, acting director of Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN,
  • Candle of Friendship was lighted by Jan Słomiak, mayor of Kosów Lacki,
  • Candle of Resistance and Heroism was lighted by Ester Kamari, history witness
  • Candle of Hope was lighted together by youth from Poland and Israel.

Among this year’s guests were also:  Mazovian Commandant of the State Fire Service – Bogdan Łasica, Province Police Commander with headquarters in Radom – Zbigniew Mikołajczak, Mazovian Education Superintendent – Aurelia Michałowska, Assistant Director of Warsaw Ghetto Museum –  Aleksandra Skibniewska, Province Governor’s Representative for national and ethnic minorities – Judyta Rozbicka-Prokopowicz, head of Małkinia Górna commune – Bożena Kordek, delegations from Institute of National Remembrance, The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association and Pilecki Family House Museum.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki directed an official letter to the guest gathered during this year’s ceremony.

Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, Charge d’Affaires ad interim from Embassy of Israel in Poland spoke to the participants of the meeting “We Are Together”, in particular to the gathered youth from Poland and Israel. She recalled the history of teenage Michael Lazarowicz, who in 1942 was deported from liquidated ghetto in Częstochowa to Treblinka. He was assigned to the group responsible for sorting the properties taken from the murdered people. After two traumatic weeks he managed to escape. He was saved and given shelter by the Polish family. Then he returned to Częstochowa where he lived in hiding until the end of the war.

 Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Elżbieta Witek have also directed a letter to the participants of “We Are Together” meeting.

Youth gathered in large numbers to take part in this meeting, together with their guardians, prepared a poignant artistic setting. Young people from both countries, recited poems and sang songs referring to a difficult and painful history of fall of humanity, which took place during World War II. The artistic part of the commemoration had a unique overtone, especially here in Treblinka, in the meadow that covers remains of the murdered. The meeting and ceremonies, which were the highlight of this event were a perfect opportunity for Polish and Israel youth to gain more knowledge about each other and develop mutual understanding.

1 October 2019