WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Simcha Rotem and another Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighter are protesting the placement of a monument to righteous gentiles in the former ghetto.
An open letter signed by Rotem and Pnina Grynszpan Frymer was published Wednesday on jewish.org.pl, a Jewish community Web portal, and sent to Poland’s president and the mayor of Warsaw.
The monument will be situated next to the newly dedicated Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
Rotem, the recipient of one of Poland’s highest honors, and Frymer wrote that they were “shaken” by the news of the location, which they said has “raised protests worldwide.”
“The Republic of Poland, our first homeland, has bestowed upon us medals for our relentless fight against the Nazi occupier. In this fight, we were often alone, but we have survived the Holocaust,” they wrote. “We are also alive today because of help received from the Righteous Poles. However, we fail to understand why such a monument should be erected on the grounds where hundreds of thousands of people died a lonely death before any help arrived.”
Rotem and Frymer, who both live in Jerusalem, asked President Bronisław Komorowski to create in that area of the former ghetto “a protected zone of memory, similar to the protective zones in Auschwitz and Birkenau.”
The Remembrance and Future Foundation, which plans to build the monument to the Righteous Among the Nations, was founded in 2013 by Sigmund Rolat. An official announcement of the project is scheduled for Feb. 4.
Rotem, an honorary citizen of Warsaw, was recognized in 2013 with the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.