Torun remembrance park honours Poles who saved Jews in World War II

Tytus Żmijewski/PAP

A National Remembrance Park was opened in the north-central Polish city of Torun on Saturday in honour of those who risked their lives to save Jews in Poland during the Second World War.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Deputy Prime Ministers Piotr Glinski and Jacek Sasin as well as Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak and Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski.

Kaczynski said the park served Poland well and protected its dignity from detractors, while PM Morawiecki said the site restored both memory and dignity to all Poles and the Polish nation, who had been "stripped of the truth" through "perfidious lies" about the "terrible years of the 'second apocalypse'."

During the ceremony, a letter was read out by the oldest surviving Polish Righteous Among the Nations, Jozef Walaszczyk, who saved 53 Jews from death during the war. Michal Sobelman, the Israeli embassy's spokesman, also read out a letter from Israeli Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi, who said that anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia will be a threat to every state and its values until they are once and for all eradicated.

President Andrzej Duda, in a letter to participants, wrote that the "memory of exceptional-normal Poles rescuing Jews during the second World War is an irremovable part of Polish identity," adding that several hundred thousand Jews were saved by Poles.