Traditionally, on the first Saturday of September, patriotic and religious ceremony in honour of the Victims of the Treblinka I Forced Labour Camp and World War II was held on the premises of the former Treblinka I Forced Labour Camp. The organizer of the ceremony was the Holy Trinity and St. Anna Parish in Prostyń and the Treblinka Museum. The Nazi German Extermination and Forced Labour Camp (1941-1944).
The penal labour camp operated from late summer 1941 to the end of July 1944. The exact number of prisoners in the camp is unknown. It is assumed that about 20,000 people (Poles, Jews and Roma) were imprisoned there, of which about 10,000 died of diseases, slave labour, extreme living conditions or were shot.
The celebrations began with the Way of the Cross led by Fr. Józef Poskrobko, the parish priest in Prostyń. The first station was at the Gravel Pit – the place of slave labor of prisoners of the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp.
After the Way of the Cross and after all the guests were welcomed by the Director of the Treblinka Museum, Dr. Edward Kopówka and by Fr. The Parish Priest Józef Poskrobko a field mass was celebrated in the area of the Execution Site. The mass was led by Bishop Piotr Sawczuk, who recalled in the sermon:
“The ground we stand on contains the ashes of thousands of people. People did not matter for the perpetrators of this cruel crime. What mattered to them was a sick dream, which was to make the sick ideology a reality. […] It is impossible to weigh or measure the priceless value of human life or the destroyed culture of societies. […] We come together to pray for peace and security. Hatred destroys not only those who are hated, but also those who hate. […] We pray for eternal peace for the Christians who died here, but also for many representatives of Judaism. We pray for all those who died here with the hope of eternal life”.
As every year, the celebration gathered representatives of the families of the former prisoners of the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp, representatives of the Union of Combatants of the Republic of Poland, former Political Prisoners from the circle in Stoczek Węgrowski and the Righteous Among the Nations represented by Mr. Józef Maliński.
There were also representatives of local and state authorities. The ceremony was attended by:
– Izabela Wrona – Representative of the Mazowieckie Voivode;
– Urszula Krzymowska, Councilor of the Sokołów district, who participated on behalf of Waldemar Kraska, the Senator of the Republic of Poland and the Deputy Minister of Health.
– Marek Renik – Deputy Starost of the Węgrów district;
– Adam Kaczmarczyk, who represented Anna Siarkowska, Member of Parliament and the Ostrów Mazowiecka Forest District.
– Bożena Kordek – Head of the Małkinia Górna commune;
– representatives of the village council in Prostyń;
– Jan Słomiak, the Mayor of the Municipal and Communal Office of Kosów Lacki, together with Ewa Arciechowska, Deputy Chairman of the Municipal and Communal Council and Daniela Prokopczuk, Secretary of the Municipal and Communal Office of Kosów Lacki;
The ceremony was attended by representatives of cultural institutions, headed by Anna Duńczyk-Szulc, Director of the Museum of Warsaw; Professor Zofia Chyra-Rolicz and Artur Ziontek – members of the Treblinka Museum Council.
There were also representatives of:
– Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Primary School in Kosów Lacki with the Standard-bearers, headed by the Director Agnieszka Ajdys and teachers;
– Fr. Jan Twardowski Primary School in Glina with the Standard-bearers, led by Ewa Banaszek and Alicja Kruszewska;
– White Eagle Secondary School in Kosów Lacki and representatives of the military class with the Standard-bearers, headed by the Director Hanna Przesmycka;
– Students and their parents from Public Primary School in Jasienica with the Standard-bearers.
– Janusz Korczak Primary School No. 2 in Łochów together with the Standard-bearers, headed by the Director Renata Jaczewska;
– Maria Curie Skłodowska Primary School No. 1, in Małkinia Górna with the Standard-bearers, headed by Mrs. Teodosia Ogonowska;
– Fryderyk Chopin Primary School No. 2 in Małkinia Górna, with the Standard-bearers and the Standard of the Home Army;
– Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Primary School in Kiełczewo with the Standard-bearers, headed by Director Andrzej Koroś;
– John Paul II Primary School in Prostyń, with the Standard-bearers, headed by Director Ewa Szymanik;
– Primary School in Orle, headed by Anna Kopacz;
– Salesian Secondary School Lux Sapientiae in Sokołów Podlaski together with the guardians: Fr. Artur Rogowski, Milena Gryglas and Sylwia Skrzeszewska;
– Janusz Korczak troup from Polish Scouting Association in Sokołów Podlaski; with the Standard-bearers.
– Senior Club from Sadowne;
– local press;
The word-music program was prepared and performed by the Belfers Band.
During the ceremony at the Execution Site, the exhibition “Pawiak Prisoners murdered in Treblinka. 2 March 1942 – 2 March 2022: 80th anniversary of the transport of Pawiak prisoners subsequently murdered in Treblinka” was presented. On 15 boards of the exhibition, its curator Anna Remiszewska presented the history of people who were not prisoners of the Treblinka I Penal Labor Camp, but were murdered right next to the camp’s borders as a result of the retaliation against the Polish civilian population carried out by the German occupation authorities. The execution took place on March 2, or on the night of March 2–3, 1942. Ludwig Fischer, Governor of the Warsaw District, publicly announced the execution of “one hundred Polish members of a secret organization” in a notice dated March 3, 1942, which was spread a day later in Warsaw. The execution caused a stir among the residents of Warsaw, who commemorated the execution with the inscription on the walls: “Honour to Thier Memory”. The exhibition was also presented on September 4 in front of the Municipal and Communal Cultural Center in Kosów Lacki during the concert “Kwartet na koniec czasu” (“Quartet for the End of Time”) by Olivier Messiaen performed by Robert Kwiatkowski (violin), Andrzej Wojciechowski (clarinet), Błażej Goliński (cello) and Sławomir Wilk (piano). The concert was held under the Honorary Patronage of the Marshal of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Mr. Adam Struzik, and the Honorary Patronage of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. It was financed by a special-purpose subsidy from the budget of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship Self-Government.
At the end of the ceremony, wreaths and lit candles were laid at the Execution Site in front of the monument commemorating the Victims of the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp and the monument to the Roma Victims. After the ceremony, the management of the Treblinka Museum also laid flowers in front of the central monument in the former German Death Camp Treblinka II.
The director of the Museum would like to thank everyone, especially: the District Police Headquarters in Sokołów Podlaski, the State Fire Department Headquarters in Sokołów Podlaski, the Volunteer Fire Brigade from Kosów Lacki, the Independent Public Healthcare Institution RM-MEDITRANS in Sokołów Podlaski, as well as the soldiers from 22 Cartographic Centre in Komorów and Scouts from Janusz Korczak troup from Polish Scouting Association in Sokołów Podlaski for creation of a guard of honour; and Marzena Szcześniak and Ilona Flażyńska, who prepared reflections for the Way of the Cross, and other employees of the Treblinka Museum for involvement and the smooth organisation of this year’s ceremony.