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Solidarity Leader Says Jews Have Right to Decide Fate of Convent at Auschwitz

September 19, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Lech Walesa, head of Poland’s Solidarity trade union movement, believes Jews have the right to decide the fate of a convent on the grounds of the former Auschwitz death camp.

He expressed his views to Heinz Galinski, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in West Germany, when they met in Duesseldorf last week.

Walesa, whose movement now shares power with the Communist Party in the new Polish government, was the guest of DNB, the West German trade union umbrella organization, and met with Galinski at DNB headquarters.

He reportedly told the Jewish leader, who is an Auschwitz survivor, that, in his view, Jews have a preferential claim when it comes to resolving the convent dispute.

He said he was ashamed that a dispute had arisen at all between part of the Catholic Church in Poland and the world Jewish community.

Galinski suggested at their meeting that Walesa mediate between the Polish Church and Jewish groups. There was no report of how Walesa responded.

The Catholic Church committed itself to relocate the convent in an agreement signed with Jewish leaders over two years ago that has yet to be implemented.

The dispute has brought Jewish groups from many countries to Poland, mainly to stage protests at the convent.

Galinski will soon lead a delegation of West German Jews to Auschwitz and to other sites in Poland. The trip is to determine how German Jews can best cooperate with the tiny remnant of Jews in Poland.

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