Israel president Reuven Rivlin has said it’s “impossible” to deny that Poles had involvement in the Holocaust, during a speech made at March of the Living.
The head of state was joined by Polish President Andrzej Duda, as he led the 1.5 mile march’s largest ever procession from Auschwitz I to Birkenau.
Addressing the crowd of more than 10,000 at the former Nazi concentration camp, Rivlin said: “There were men and women who put their own lives and the lives of their dear ones at risk for the sake of others, and they, too, will be remembered and honoured forever.
“Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny the truth. True, it was Germany that established the camps, but our people were not murdered only in the camps. The members of our nation were betrayed by the people amongst whom they lived, in France, in Holland, and in Belgium. They were murdered by Ukrainians, Lithuanians and yes, also by Poles.”
“It is the right of every nation to rewrite sections of its own narrative, to rebuild itself from its ruins. However, if the Polish People feels that its image has been distorted by the events of the Holocaust, it is more important that we cooperate, that we invest in education, that together we establish research institutes, that together we work on commemoration and remembrance, that together, we – Poles and Jews – study what happened, so that we make sure that it will never happen again.”
In President Duda’s address, the Polish leader echoed the importance of perpetuating Holocaust memory and explained that he saw the joint participation of the two presidents as “a sign and a proof of the victory of life over death, the victory of memory over oblivion.”
This comes after he signed a controversial bill in February 6 that outlaws saying Poland had complicity in crimes committed during the Holocaust.
The Israeli delegation, led by Rivlin, also included heads of Shin Be, Mossad, the IDF Chief of General Staff and Police Commissioner.
The march, which Jewish News participated in alongside just under 300 others on the UK delegation, also contained representatives from Chelsea Football Club. In January this year, the club launched a landmark #SayNoToAntisemitism campaign – an initiative to raise awareness of and tackle anti-Semitism at the club.
The concept had personal support from the club’s Jewish Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who wrote in the matchday programme on the day of it’s launch.