Director of Auschwitz museum awarded 'Knight of the Legion of Honour'

Piotr Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, was bestowed the Legion of Honour in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on Thursday by the French ambassador in Poland, Pierre Levy.

Piotr Cywiński was appointed director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Memorial and Museum in 2006. Ambassador Pierre Levy, who bestowed the award, referred to the great responsibility borne by the director of such an institution. According to the ambassador, he must reconcile many difficult tasks: "to make this place accessible to a growing number of visitors, and at the same time to preserve it for posterity."

"How can the cruelty and the significance of these horrors to humanity be presented? How can the experience of hell be conveyed? These are questions that, I believe, appear to you every day," said Levy, addressing Cywiński.

The ambassador also mentioned that Piotr Cywiński is a valued researcher.

Piotr Cywiński, in expressing his thanks for the award, recalled that his family had found a second home in France in the "difficult 80s".

"Today we are also facing difficult times," said Cywiński, adding that these words have a special tone now in Poland. "France is proposing to us this afternoon, that the three fundamental values of the Republic: freedom, equality and brotherhood, be joined by the two principles of the Legion, which are honour and homeland. This is some proposal that, in my opinion, goes with today's difficult times," said Cywiński, thanking everyone present during the ceremony.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris, the Jewish Historical Institute and the Polin Museum.