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Poland Assures Jews That Warsaw Will Not Destroy Ghetto Remnant

February 19, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The government of Poland has assured representatives of Canadian Jewry that the city of Warsaw has no plans to demolish the last remnant of the Warsaw Ghetto, namely the “Gate of Zelazna No. 63.”

The Polish Foreign Ministry, in a message to the Canadian Jewish Congress, stated that “neither the authorities of the City of Warsaw nor those of the district of Wola have ever passed a decision authorizing the pulling down of Zelazna 63 in Warsaw.

“On the contrary, the Office on the Preservation of Monuments has launched the procedure in order to recognize the above-mentioned building as a historical monument,” the message said. It said the building was put on a “special list” of historical monuments in Warsaw.

This sharply contrasts with previous reports reaching the CJC that the last remnant of the ghetto would be razed. Those reports caused deep concern, because the ghetto, which played a major role in the Jewish resistance movement during the Holocaust, is revered by Jews as a symbol of courage.

The CJC had communicated with Polish President Lech Walesa and Stanislaw Wyganowski, the Warsaw city president, protesting the planned move after media reports to that effect were received.

In a Feb. 9 meeting with Poland’s ambassador to Canada, Alojzy Bartoszek, the CJC was informed that such a decision had not been made.

Moshe Ronen, the CJC national executive chairman, and Nathan Leipciger, a Holocaust survivor and chairman of Canada’s National Holocaust Remembrance Committee, expressed their appreciation for the ambassador’s prompt response.

Leipciger also cited the fact that April 1993 marks the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, when the Jews there bravely attempted the ghetto’s defense against overwhelming odds.

He asked that a special commemorative program be instituted by the Polish government. He told the ambassador that signs at the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp complex were in need of repair and suggested that the English language be more uniformly used there.


Leipciger is a member of an international advisory committee planning a revision of memorials at the site.

He brought up several other points at the meeting with the Polish envoy, among them a complaint that visitors often visit only Auschwitz and not Birkenau, because of the distance between them, thus reducing the impact of the camp where some 1.6 million Jews were murdered.

Leipciger informed the ambassador that a generous donation, from former Holocaust Remembrance Committee Chairman Gerda Frieberg of Toronto, was used to purchase a bus to transport visitors to Birkenau from Auschwitz. He asked for assurances the bus be used for this purpose alone.

He also asked that an abandoned 30-room house in the area be refurbished and used as a hostel, kosher restaurant and prayer facility for Jewish visitors, noting that there are already Protestant and Catholic hostels in the vicinity.

“At this time, we must encourage the future generation to visit this site,” said Leipciger. “This is the biggest Jewish cemetery in the world. To not have a place to say a prayer is a real shame,” he said.

He also expressed indignation over the recent visit to Auschwitz by Canadian Holocaust revisionist and publisher Ernst Zundel, who publicly refutes that the number of Jews murdered there was so high and denies that anyone was killed by gas.

The CJC has requested that the Polish government refuse entry to Zundel in the future.

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