Patriotic and religious ceremony to the memory of the Victims of the Treblinka Penal Labour Camp and World War II – September 2, 2023

On September 2, 2023, patriotic and religious ceremony was held at the Treblinka Museum to the memory of the Victims of the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp and victims of World War II. The event was organized by the Parish of St. Holy Trinity and St. Anna in Prostyń together with the Treblinka Museum. The Nazi German Extermination and Forced Labour camp (1941-1944).

The participants met at the Gravel Pit (the place of slave labour of Treblinka I prisoners). Afterwards, the Way of the Cross began, which was led by Fr. Józef Poskrobko, parish priest in Prostyń. Each of the 14 stations of the Cross was developed on the basis of the accounts and memories of the prisoners of the Penal Labour Camp in Treblinka. Each station corresponds to personal experiences and emotions and it is a combination of worship, history and memory.

The prayer ended at the symbolic monuments commemorating the Poles, Jews, Roma and Sinti murdered in the camp. Then, the Director of the Treblinka Museum, Dr. Edward Kopówka and Fr. Rector Józef Poskrobko, welcomed the guests. Then, a field Holy Mass was celebrated. This year, Fr. Bishop Piotr Sawczuk spoke about the good use of talents by man. Everyone is obligated to build peace, love and harmony. It is especially necessary to strive for peace in modern times when there is a war going on abroad. The Bible teaches us justice and peace, which are important values ​​that a person should live on a daily basis.

As every year, the ceremony was attended by descendants of former prisoners of the Treblinka I Labour Camp.

Representatives of local and state authorities were also present.

  1. Dariusz Tomczak from the delegation of the Marshal’s Office of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship, on behalf Adam Struzik, Marshal of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship.
  2. Marcin Grochowski, Head of the Regional Office of the Voivodship Office in Ostrołęka.
  3. Jan Słomiak – Mayor of the Town and Commune of Kosów Lacki together with Secretary Daniela Prokopiuk and Councilor Ewa Arciechowska.
  4. Bożena Kordek – Mayor of Małkinia Górna
  5. The village council of Prostyń headed by Ms. Barbara Dębiec and Barbara Młynarczyk.
  6. Zbigniew Siemko – Regional Commander of Regional Command of Railway Security Guard in Warsaw.
  7. Maciej Wójcicki, Deputy Forest Inspector of the Sokołów District.

And representative of:

  1. Joanna Gierczyńska – Director of the Pawiak Prison Museum.
  2. Małgorzata Iwańska – Director of the Municipal Public Library in Sokołów Podlaski.
  3. Katarzyna Szczudlińska – teacher, consultant in the field of Polish language, Warsaw Centre for Education and Social Innovations and Trainings.
  4. Lisa Kuli School no. 3 with Marta Chodorowska.
  5. Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Primary School in Kiełczew headed by Director, Andrzej Konoś and standards.
  6. Fryderyk Chopin Primary School no. 2 in Małkinia Górna together with the flagship handed over by the Home Army of the “Opocznik” district.
  7. Jan Twardowski Primary School in Glin headed by Director Justyna Brzozowska with teachers and standards.
  8. School Complex in Kosów Lacki with standards headed by Director, Hann Przesmyck.
  9. Salesians School Complex in Sokołów Podlaski headed by Fr. Arturem Roguskim.
  10. Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Primary School in Kosów Lacki with standard headed by Director Agnieszka Ajdys and teachers.
  11. C Skłodowska Primary School no. 1 in Małkinia Górna with standards.
  12. Korczak Primary School and Kindergarten in Urle with standard headed by Director Aniela Dobosiewicz.
  13. Staszic School Complex in Małkinia Górna with standards headed by Director Agnieszka Gaś and Wojciech Hadała.
  14. John Paul II District School Complex in Prostyń and teachers.
  15. Janusz Korczak Primary School no. 2 in Łochów with standard headed by Director Renata Jaczewska.
  16. Janusz Korczak Primary School in Jasienica with standards.
  17. Primary School in Orle.
  18. Janusz Korczak Scout Group in Sokołów Podlaski headed by Sławomir Pasik
  19. Treblinka Museum Council headed by Prof. Zofia Chyra-Rolicz.
  20. Artur Rogowski from Jan Bosko Parish in Sokołów Podlaski.

The “Women in the Treblinka I Penal Labor Camp” exhibition was also presented during the ceremony for the first time. The exhibition consists of 10 boards with a brief history of the Treblinka I Labour Camp and its topography. The important part of the exhibition are biographies of female prisoners and their memories from the camp. The author and curator of the exhibition is Anna Remiszewska, who is also the author of the exhibition catalogue.

The ceremony was inaugurated by a musical performance by Witold Radomski, a resident of Kosów Lacki, a physical education teacher at the Primary School in Kosów Lacki, a social and cultural activist. Witold Radmoski has been cooperating with the Treblinka Museum for several years, providing the musical performances for the ceremonies, which are usually based on poems related to the subject of the Holocaust and Treblinka. The guests listened to the four songs:

The first song is based on the poem “Go and visit Treblinka”, which was written after Halina’s return from Poland in September 1986. The poem was originally written in Hebrew. Halina mostly writes her poems in Polish and then translates them into Hebrew.

The next song included the text of the camp song. The text was donated to the Treblinka Museum by Krystyna Grabowska, a former prisoner of the Labour Camp. Prisoners were punished with whips for singing this song. During the ceremony the song was performed by Witold Radomski and Ilona Flażyńska.

Another song was “Bagaż” (Luggage), which was written by Bożena Węgrzynek, a teacher from Wilga near Garwolin.

The last one was “Modlitwa o Wschodzie Słońca” (Prayer at sunrise) –  a poem by Natan Tenenbaum, as well as a song with music composed by Przemysław Gintrowski. It was performed by the trio: Kaczmarski-Gintrowski-Łapiński. It became “the anthem of Good in times of contempt.” and it was an informal anthem of “Solidarity”.

During official ceremony, wreaths were laid and candles were lit at the monument commemorating the Victims of the former Labour Camp. On such an important day, the management of the Treblinka Museum also paid tribute to the victims of the former Treblinka II Death Camp by laying flowers at the central monument.

The winners of the poetry competition entitled “Memory of the Holocaust Written in Poems”.  were also present at the ceremony. The management of the Treblinka Museum awarded the following participants:

Wiesława Kwiek, who took the second place with a poem entitled “Czternaście lat” (Fourteen years)

Monika Szast, who took the 3rd place with a poem entitled: “Apogeum-nieczłowieczeństwa” (The apogee of non-humanity)

Andrzej Wiśniewski, who gained a distinction with a poem entitled “ 19 sierpnia w Otwocku (August 19 in Otwock)

Hubert Wycech, who took the third place with a poem entitled “Piekło na ziemi” (Hell on Earth)

The Director of the Museum warmly thanked all the gathered participants, especially: Fr. Józef Poskrobko, the Poviat Police Headquarters in Sokołów Podlaski, the State Fire Brigade Headquarters in Sokołów Podlaski, the Volunteer Fire Brigade from Kosów Lacki, the Independent Public Healthcare Institution RM-MEDITRANS from Sokołów Podlaski and the Soldiers from 22 of the Military Cartographic Center in Komorów and the Janusz Korczak Scout Troop from the ZHP Sokołów Podlaski for displaying the guard of honor. Thanks were also given to Marzena Szczęśniak, who prepared the reflections for the Way of the Cross, and to other employees of the Treblinka Museum for their involvement in the organization of this year’s ceremony.

5 September 2023