Honouring the Polish Righteous in Sydney

August 16, 2017

Sydney, Australia

Around 150 people from Sydney’s Polish and Jewish communities filled the “Backyard Opera Gallery”, in the Sydney suburb of Tempe, for the Official Opening of the POLIN Museum’s exhibition “They Risked Their Lives – Poles Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust”.

The event was co-hosted by the Polish Consulate-General in Sydney and the Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants’ (ASPJ). It was the first major event, in Sydney, to pay tribute to the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Master of Ceremonies was Polish Vice-Consul General Marta Gubala-Kiec.

As first speaker, ASPJ Treasurer and long-time POLIN Museum volunteer translator, Andrew Rajcher, sincerely thanked the Sydney Polish Consul-General and her staff for agreeing to co-host the exhibition in their city. He told the audience that this event honoured not only those Polish Righteous as recognised by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, but also those Poles who were killed by the Nazis, along with the Jews they were helping, and about whom we may never know.

Consul-General, Regina Jurkowska, welcomed everyone to the event and spoke at length about the 1,000 year long co-existence of Poles and Jews on Polish soil. Others to speak included the NSW State Justice Secretary David Clarke who recalled his visit to Yad Vashem and the son of Polish Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Dr Dovid Slavin, who stated that we cannot imagine the courage it took to risk the life of one’s family to save others.

A memorial candle was lit by State Member of Parliament, Robert Borsak, in memory of both the rescuers and the rescued – those who survived the War and have passed away since, as well as those who perished while trying to rescue or help Jews during the War.

Memorial prayers were then recited by Father Kamil Zylczynski and Rabbi Dr Dovid Slavin.

A short concert then followed by Polish artist Marek Ravski, who entertained the audience
with songs in both Polish and Yiddish.

This is the third time that this exhibition, produced by the POLIN Museum in conjunction with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has gone on display in Australia. The first two showings were in Melbourne, at the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre and at Dom Polski “Syrena”. Upon its return to Melbourne, the exhibition will go on display for a fourth time in Australia, later this year, at the Albion Polish Club.