On June 14, 2022, at the Treblinka Museum, the commemorative celebration of the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps took place.
June 14, 1940 is the date when KL Auschwitz began to operate. On that day, the first transport of Polish political prisoners arrived at the camp. Among the 728 people transported from Tarnów were soldiers of the Polish Army, members of independence organizations, scouts, students and a small group of Polish Jews. The National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the German Concentration Camps and Death Camps was established by a resolution of the Polish Parliament of June 8, 2006.
The celebrations began at 9.00 am with a musical performance by Witold Radomski and Arkadiusz Rogal’s band “Po – Słowie”. They performed their own musical compositions: “Jaskółka” (Swallow), to which the words were written by Bożena Węgrzynek, and “Mała Stacja Treblinki” (Small Treblinka Station) by Władysław Szlengel.
Then, Edward Kopówka, the director of the Treblinka Museum, officially opened and welcomed the gathered guests. In his speech, he recalled:
“This year the 80th anniversary of the so-called “Operation Reinhard” takes place, which was aimed at the physical liquidation of Jews, Roma and Sinti by the German Nazis. For this purpose, the Extermination Camp in Treblinka was established, where 800,000-900,000 Jews and 2,000-4,000 Roma were “industrially” murdered. The German occupiers also established the Penal Labour Camp in Treblinka, where Poles, Jews and Roma were detained. Through slave labour in the gravel pit, the German occupiers wanted to raise “obedient” people.”
The gathered guests also spoke:
MP Anna Maria Siarkowska brought the memory of the terror of World War II by telling personal history of her family. Among other things, she said: “People of various nationalities and religions were killed in the German camps. In the difficult period of World War II all these people were denied humanity. They were treated like subhumans. […] It is not enough to say “Never again!”. We must uphold human dignity and react every time a social group is dehumanized. The answer must be love and respect for all people”.
Next speeches were delivered by: Maik Reichel, Director of the State Agency for Civic Education Saxony-Anhalt; Sara Michalska – Deputy Director of the Organization Department for Organizational Affairs at the Marshal’s Office of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship in Warsaw; Elżbieta Sadowska, Sokołów Podlaski Poviat Staroste; Urszula Krzymowska – Sokołów Podlaski Poviat Councilor, who spoke on behalf of Senator Waldemar Kraska; Barbara Janina Sochal – President of the Polish Janusz Korczak Association.
Ilona Flażyńska, an employee of the Treblinka Museum, briefly presented the history of both German camps: the Treblinka II Extermination Camp and the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp. Students of the Stefan Kardynał Wyszyński Primary School in Kosów Lacki took part in the celebrations: Aleksander Olszewski read a poem written in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942, entitled “Song of Treblinka”, Patrycja Grzymała quoted the words of Treblinka “Camp Song”. The employees of the Treblinka Museum recalled fragments of an account by Richard Glazar – an escapee from the Treblinka II Extermination Camp and former prisoners of the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp: Zygmunt Chłopek and Mieczysław Chodźko.
At the end of this part of the celebration, the band “Po – Słowie” performed the song “Baggage”, the words of which were written by Bożena Węgrzynek. Then they also performed their own music composition of the poem “Treblinka” by Felicja Raszkin-Nowak.
This year’s celebrations took place in the shadow of the war taking place in Ukraine. The guests also referred to the war in their speeches.
The ceremony was also attended by:
– Józef Maliński, President of the Commune Circle of Combatants of the Republic of Poland in Stoczek Węgrowski;
– Jan Witkowski and Elżbieta Sadzyńska from the Main Board of the Union of Veterans of the Republic of Poland and Former Political Prisoners;
– Hanna Przesmycka, Director of the School Complex in Kosów Lacki;
– Agnieszka Gaś, Director of the Stanisław Staszic School in Małkinia Górna;
– Anna Maliszewska, Deputy Director of the Stefan Kardynał Wyszyński Primary School in Kosów Lacki, together with the tutor of the students – Małgorzata Łach,
– Dorota Ambroziak, Director of the Department of Education, Culture and Social Integration of Ostrów Mazowiecka and Wioletta Ogonowska, Director of the Budget Implementation Department of the Municipal Office of Ostrów Mazowiecka;
– Rafał Pękała, Deputy Director of the Pilecki Family House Museum in Ostrów Mazowiecka, together with Karolina Kolbuszewska, Head of the Historical and Educational Department;
– youth and teachers from a study group from Saxony-Anhalt;
The ceremony ended with the laying of wreaths at the Monument of the Victims of the Death Camp, the monument of the victims of the Penal Labour Camp, the monument commemorating the Roma, at the Gravel Pit and the former Treblinka Train Station.