Honoring the Polish Righteous in Melbourne

July 5, 2015

Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre

Around 250 people from Melbourne’s Polish and Jewish communities filled the auditorium of the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre in Melbourne for the Australian premiere screening of the POLIN Museum’s film “Ocaleni” (The Rescued) and for the Official Opening of the Australian showing of the POLIN Museum’s exhibition “They Risked Their Lives – Poles Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust”.

The screening and display were part of the Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants’ major event which paid tribute to the Polish Righteous Among the Nations.

Master of Ceremonies was ASPJ Vice-President and long-time POLIN Museum volunteer translator, Andrew Rajcher, who told the audience that this event honoured not only those Polish Righteous as recognised by the Yad Vashem Institute, but also those Poles who were killed by the Nazis, along with the Jews they were aiding, and about whom we may never know.

Photographs courtesy Brian Cail

Among the guest speakers were the Ambassador of the State of Israel to Australia, Mr Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, the Honorary Consul-General of the Republic of Poland in Melbourne, Dr George Łuk-Kozika, President of the Polish Community Council of Victoria, Mr Marian Pawlik, Sidra Kranz-Moshinski (daughter of Henryk Kranz, a child Holocaust survivor saved by Poles) and Matthew Fiedorowicz (grandson of the Polish Righteous Leokardia Choińska-Walczak).

Prior to the Official Opening of the Exhibition, a short memorial service was held with the lighting of seven candles – one each for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and one more for the Polish Righteous who survived the War and have since died, and for those Poles who were murdered during the War while trying to help Jews. Memorial prayers were recited by Rabbi Phillip Heillbrun and Ks.Wiesław Słowik.

The formal part of the event concluded with Ambassador Ben-Shmuel and Consul-General Łuk-Kozika jointly cutting the ribbon to officially open the Exhibition.

The exhibition and film will be shown at several venues in Melbourne over the next eighteen months and, in 2016, they will travel to Sydney where they will be hosted by the Consulate of the Republic of Poland.

The Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants sincerely thanks the following Sponsors who, through their support and generosity, made it possible for us to bring the Exhibition to Australia:

  • The Embassy of the State of Israel in Australia
  • Jewish Community Council of Victoria
  • The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Australia
  • Polish Community Council of Victoria
  • Australian Institute of Polish Affairs
  • Axiom Compusat Services
  • Cafe D’lish
  • Flight Centre, Elwood
  • Polaron European Solutions
  • Axis Property
  • FBI Intelligent Travel
  • Ms Eva Hussain
  • Mrs Dora Rajcher