WARSAW (Dec. 17)
The nature and extent of Jewish claims regarding the protection and restoration of the 1000-year-old Polish-Jewish cultural and religious heritage was defined here in negotiations between the Polish government and an eight-member Jewish delegation headed by World Jewish Congress president Edgar Bronfman, it was announced here yesterday. The negotiations followed a three-day official visit to Warsaw by the Jewish delegation.
“The agenda has been defined and agreement on all but the most technical of points has been reached,” said Kalman Sultanik, WJC vice president.
In a release here, the official Polish press agency described the negotiated items as envisaging “the problems of maintenance and display of religious objects related to the Mosaic faith, archives on the life of Jews in Poland, commemoration of sites of Nazi mass crimes committed against Jews, the Jewish pavillion at the Auschwitz museum, Jewish cemeteries and other issues.”
The Jewish delegation represented the so-called “Tripartite Commission” which was formed to coordinate representations to the Polish authorities. The Commission includes the WJC and two of its affiliated bodies which are competent to deal with the issues involved — the World Federation of Polish Jews and the World Federation of Jewish Fighters, Partisans and Camp Inmates. Stephen Grayek, who headed a three-member delegation from Israel, represented the latter two bodies.
On the Polish side, negotiations were headed by the Minister for Religious Affairs, Adam Lopatka, and included representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Arts; Ministry of Labor, Wages and Social Affairs; Ministry of Construction, Regional Planning, and Municipal Economy; the main board of the state archives; and the Council for Protection of Monuments to Struggle and Martyrdom.
POINTS OF AGREEMENT
Sultanik said that a six-hour marathon negotiating session encompassed the following points:
* The transfer of sacred Jewish objects, once the property of Jewish communities in Poland, for use in Israel and other Jewish communities outside of Poland for their preservation and exhibition as memorabilia of the Jewry of Poland.
* Assurance for the continuance and restoration of existing Jewish cemeteries and agreement to erect memorials in places of mass burials.
* Agreement for the continuation of access to archives, in order to receive material regarding the life of Polish Jews, and also to receive documentation for archives in Israel and to Jewish institutions abroad.
* Insuring that survivors of the Holocaust, who had acquired vested pension or similar social security entitlements, under the Polish Pension Law of 1968, should not be deprived of their benefits.
* Discussion regarding the subject of Jewish communal property, which is presently in the use of various institutions.
According to WJC Secretary-General Israel Singer, who along with executive director Elan Steinberg participated in the delegation, a two-hour meeting with Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski dealt with a “wide-ranging political agenda involving discussions of a general character as well as those relating to East-West relations and the Middle East situation.”
Following the meeting — in a ceremony carried by Polish television — Jaruzelski presented Bronfman with a 200-year-old Torah adorned with a silver crown along with a unique three-foot high silver menorah. The WJC said that Bronfman will transfer these rare items of Judaica to an appropriate public exhibition setting.
The Jewish delegation began its visit to Warsaw with a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Afterwards, at the Nozyk Synagogue, the sole Jewish house of worship in Warsaw to survive World War II, the delegation met with leaders and representatives of the 6,000-member Polish Jewish community who had come from throughout Poland.
Following a gala performance of the Yiddish play, “The Dybbuk,” the group attended the official ceremonies in which artists of the Warsaw Jewish Theater, under the directorship of Szymon Szurmiej, were awarded state medals on the occasion of the theater’s 35th anniversary. The delegation concluded its visit with a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the Treblinka death camp.