WASHINGTON (Dec. 12)
President Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust announced yesterday that the government of Poland has agreed to “refurbish” the Umschlag Platz in Warsaw where more than 500,000 Warsaw Jews were deported to Nazi extermination camps, principally Treblinka, during World War II.
The Commission said that in recent years only a small plaque had marked the site and a gasoline station was built on it. While traveling to Eastern Europe, Denmark and Israel earlier this year, Commission members “brought this insensitivity” to the attention of the Polish government. “Today,” the Commission said, “word has been received of the Polish government’s plans to refurbish the plaza and honor this important site of deportation.
Elle Wiesel, the distinguished author who is chairman of the President’s Holocaust Commission, and Andrew Mellon, professor of humanities at Boston University, said in announcing the plans that the agreement called for cooperation between the Polish government and the President’s Commission and its successor body, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
Carter issued an executive order last Oct. 30 creating the Council but has not yet appointed its members. The Holocaust Commission had a limited tenure to prepare suitable plans to memorialize the II million victims of the Nazi Holocaust, six million of whom were Jews.
Wiesel expressed his appreciation to Janusz Wieczorek, head of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Poland and to Zigmund Strochitz and Miles Lerman, co-chairmen of the fact-finding mission of the President’s Holocaust Commission for their role in the negotiations. Wiesel stressed that in honoring the memory of the Jewish victims of Nazi oppression, killed solely because they were Jewish, “the Polish government was acknowledging on historic injustice.”