Dissatisfied with Steps by Poland

Leaders of the Jewish delegations that attended the inauguration of the Jewish Pavilion on the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp last week are not completely satisfied with the steps Poland has taken so far in seeking a reconciliation with Jews and remain skeptical of its intentions. Detailed reports on the ceremonials and other aspects of the occasion were presented at a meeting of the Israeli Executive of the World Jewish Congress.

Anszel Reiss, president of the World Federation of Polish Jews, Stefan Grayek, chairman of the World Federation of Jewish Partisans and Anti-Nazi Fighters and Judge Moshe Baisky, representative of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, agreed that the Jewish Pavilion represented the first acknowledgement by the Polish authorities that the principal victims at Auschwitz were Jews, not simply Polish citizens. But they complained that no Israeli flags were flown at the ceremonies and rejected the Polish explanation that there was no Israel when Auschwitz Jews met their death.

They also noted that no Polish officials neither those attending the ceremony nor those in Warsaw–mentioned the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel. One minister who spoke at the Auschwitz site expressed hope for better relations with Jews “wherever they live” which was taken by some present to include relations with Israel.

But that was just a surmise, the delegates said. They said they were not sure what motivated the “Jewish Week” in Poland on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz unless it was a desire to improve Poland’s image among Jews and in the West generally.

Yitzhak Korea, chairman of the Israeli Executive of the WJC, said it was up to Poland to demonstrate its intentions by further moves. The delegates said they would wait to see if the Poles actually complete the Jewish Pavilion as promised by introducing signs in Hebrew and Yiddish, by including in the section devoted to Jewish resistance fighters material about the Jewish Brigade that fought the Nazis as a unit of the British army and by paying tribute to Jewish paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines during World War II.

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