• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland
  • NEWS

  • 28 August 2019

    On August 27, 2019, at the Council Chamber of the University of Victoria in Wellington (VUW), the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Wellington, in cooperation with the Centre for Strategic Studies (VUW) and the New Zealand Holocaust Centre, organised the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

    On this occasion a historical seminar was held with the participation of the Polish Ambassador and two VUW historians: Emeritus Professor Roberto Rabel and Associate Professor Giacomo Lichtner, who also represented the Holocaust Centre. The seminar was moderated by Associate Professor David Capie, Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies.


    Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski talked about the historical context of World War II and the Polish perspective of events in the years 1939-1945, struggle of Polish people against the occupying forces, the post-war period, as well as today's contributions of Poland to building a lasting peace in the world. In his speech he also referred to the fate of thousands of Poles - victims of two totalitarian systems, including the Siberian orphans, often called Children of Pahiatua, who came to this country in 1944. (see FULL TEXT)


    Professor Giacomo Lichtner presented the experience of war from the point of view of the Jewish community, noting that the German occupation and the Holocaust dramatically interrupted the thousand-year-long history of Jews in Poland. He based his speech on numerous quotes by historical figures, including Adam Czerniaków, who in 1939 was appointed a head of the Jewish Community Council. After the creation of the Warsaw Ghetto, the German occupation authorities appointed Czerniaków as a Chairman of the Jewish Council, the so-called Judenrat.  (see FULL TEXT)


    Professor Roberto Rabel looked in his speech at the war period in various dimensions - personal, based on the experience of his parents, national - based on the history of New Zealand and the international dimension. In the last context, prof. Rabel analysed the effects of World War II also for the modern audience. Among the consequences he listed a number of international institutions and agreements (i.e. UN, EU, NATO, Universal Declaration of Human Rights), through which the countries undertook to build a post-war world order based on the norms of international law. (see FULL TEXT)


    As part of the commemorations, the Polish Embassy organised an exhibition "Fighting and Suffering", prepared by the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. The exhibition met with great interest of gathered historians, representatives of New Zealand institutions, the diplomatic corps, the Polish as well as Jewish communities.


    On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germans unleashed the most tragic war disaster in all history, which consumed the lives of around 6 million Polish citizens, and escalated to the whole world, leading to the greatest catastrophe in the history of humanity, killing tens of millions of innocent victims. 80 years ago Poland was the first to face the criminal German and Soviet totalitarian storm. We still feel the painful effects of this disaster today. The memory of this tragedy unites generations and is an expression of respect for the victims of our ancestors.


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