Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, IX International Compostela - Xunta de Galicia Prize
The Jury for the 2005 award was presided over by Celso Currás, Regional Minister for Education and Universities of the Galician Government, and composed by Dr. Michael Cooper, President of the Compostela Group of Universities; Prof. Boguslaw Mroz, Delegate of Rector of Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland); Dr. Felipe Pétriz Calvo, Rector of Zaragoza University (Spain); Prof. Daniel Chasseau, Delegate of Rector of Bordeaux I University (France), and Prof. Dr. José Eduardo López Pereira, Regional Director of Universities. Gathered last 13th May at the Rectorate of Santiago de Compostela University, the Jury decided unanimously to award this 2005 prize to Prof. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, historian, publicist and former Polish Minister for International Affairs.
Born in 1922, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, active initiator and moving force behind Polish-German reconciliation, also dedicated to Polish-Jewish dialogue is historian, publicist and politician. But first of all constant fighter for free Europe, for whom the sight of the European map and flag fills with genuine feeling of historical pride, triumph of the right policy making in the name of the European values of freedom and nations parity. Let us portray his genuine portrait of the "Righteous among the Nations of the World".
Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, is a renowned historian, diplomat, and politician and the author of over 40 books and 1,000 articles, mainly concerning the history of World War II, Poland's struggle for independence, as well as Polish-German and Polish-Jewish relations. He was a high school student when the Germans invaded Poland, and was imprisoned in Auschwitz from September 1940 to April 1941.
In the years 1940-1941, Bartoszewski received his first number; ironically it was a camp number 4,427 of an inmate at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Upon his release he worked actively with the Catholic underground organization, Front for the Rebirth of Poland, and became a co-founder of the "Zegota," the Council for Aid to Jews. He has been designated one of the "Righteous Among the Nations of the World", which is the State of Israel's highest honour, bestowed among non-Jews who worked at great risk to their personal safety to save the lives of Jews.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has always stood up for people. At just 18 years of age, the Pole joined the resistance against the Nazis and helped persecuted Jews. After the end of the war, the journalist was only a free man for a short while. He spent seven years in Stalinist jails. Later, he worked in journalism, at universities and wrote numerous books and essays. From 1973, Bartoszewski taught as a professor at the Catholic University Lublin. His political commitment took him into the Solidarnosc trade union movement. Bartoszewski was again arrested with the imposition of martial law in 1981. Protests by friends in the West led to his release after five months. The former Polish Foreign Minister knows Germany well. With a one year gap in-between, he taught modern history at the Universities of Munich, Eichstätt and Augsburg from 1983 to 1990. He then went to Vienna as the first non-communist Polish Ambassador. In 1995 he served his country as foreign minister for a few months; that was when he held his famous speech to the German Bundestag on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. From July 2000 to September 2002 Bartoszewski once again held the office of foreign minister.
In everyday life, the holder of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade sees relations between Poland and Germany as follows: "We have indeed advanced far, but there is still so much to do".
People involved in building the Polish-German dialogue are worried by the present difficulties, rooted deep in history. Basil Kerski, editor-in-chief of Polsko-Niemiecki Dialog, a Berlin publication, openly says he does not understand "the Polish-German antagonism at the state level, as expressed by the debate in the Polish Sejm." He believes today everybody should find it obvious that "all questions between our countries concerning claims resulting from World War II have been closed".