NEW YORK (Sep. 29)
Poland’s Foreign Minister told Jewish leaders here that in the aftermath of the decision to resume Polish-Israeli diplomatic links, he is “convinced that other Socialist countries are adopting the same attitude,” Kalman Sultanik, World Jewish Congress vice president, disclosed.
Sultanik also said that Foreign Minister Marian Orzechowski pledged to take up the growing problem of Catholic Church institutions being built at the sites of Nazi death camps in Poland — specifically the convent at Auschwitz and the chapel at Sobibor.
Orzechowski and senior aides held three hours of discussions “on matters of mutual concern” with Jewish leaders at a private luncheon last Friday at the offices of WJCongress president Edgar Bronfman, who was joined by Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The talks were “wide-ranging” and served as a follow-up to discussions held last December in Warsaw with Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, WJC sources said.
POLAND’S DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL
On the subject of diplomatic relations with Israel, Orzechowski disclosed that Poland’s diplomatic representative will arrive in Israel on October 14 — coincidentally, the date of rotation of posts between Premier Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
He noted that it would have been “impossible” for Poland to have taken this step two or three years ago given the international climate, but had done so now because it is “in the interests of Poland, the Jewish people, and peaceful coexistence.”
Although Orzechowski said he expected other Communist states to soon act similarly, he noted that Poland had taken the lead because of its historical legacy linking it to special ties to the Jewish people. “It is naive and wrong to try and separate the Jewish people from Israel,” he said, explaining that normalization of relations with the Jewish people is linked to recognition of Israel.
Orzechowski stressed support for Israel’s right to “secure borders” and added that “the existence of the State of Israel is a fact and any effort to disregard this fact is doomed to failure.”
ISSUE OF AUSCHWITZ AND SOBIBOR
Turning to the question of Auschwitz and Sobibor, Sultanik said there were indications that church institutions were being planned at other death camp sites and noted that the chapel at Sobibor — where all the 200,000 victims were Jewish — “will be the central building at the site, and will distort the true nature of the place.”
“Poland’s role should be to preserve the authentic historic record and prevent these distortions of history,” Sultanik told Orzechowski. In response, Orzechowski pledged that “Poland will be the guardian of the historical record.” The government, he said, had regretted what had happened.
He said he would take up the matter of Sobibor on his return to Warsaw, claiming he had not previously been aware of it. “We do not wish to do anything that would irritate our relations with the Jewish community inside or outside of Poland,” the Foreign Minister stated.
POLAND TO PROSECUTE NAZI WAR CRIMINALS
On another issue, Orzechowski pledged to continue full cooperation with American authorities in the pursuit and prosecution of Nazi war criminals. He specifically said Poland would continue its wholehearted assistance in the case of John Demjanjuk who is facing trial in Israel charged with being the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka.