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Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

(b. 1922)The initiator and moving force behind Polish-German reconciliation, also dedicated to Polish-Jewish dialogue. Historian, publicist and politician.

In the years 1940-1941, Bartoszewski was an inmate at the Auschwitz concentration camp (camp number 4,427). In 1942, he co-founded the Council for Aid to Jews, "Zegota". During the years 1942-1944, he participated in an underground Catholic organization, Front Odrodzenia Polski (FOP) (Front for the Rebirth of Poland). During the years 1942-45, he worked for the Information Department of the Office of Information and Propaganda at the Home Army headquarters, and in 1943-44 also for the Department of the Interior of the Delegation of the Polish Government in Exile in Poland (Prison and Jewish Affairs Section). As a Home Army soldier, he took part in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

After the war, he worked for the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, and was also a member of "Mikołajczyk's" Polish Peasant Party, as well as editor of the Gazeta Ludowa (People's Gazette). He was persecuted by the communist system and was imprisoned twice, during the years 1946-1948 and 1949-1954. He was charged with espionage, and spent over six years in prison. In 1955, the charges and sentence were declared to have been unfounded. Later, he often spoke out against the lawless behavior of the communist authorities by signing intellectuals' protest letters to the government and parliament, for example. He wrote for the Krakow weekly Tygodnik Powszechny and was later on its editorial board. During the years 1972-82, he was secretary-general of the Polish PEN club. He lectured on modern history at the Catholic University in Lublin, worked for Radio Free Europe, and served as a professor for the "Flying Universities". In 1980, he helped found the Committee for the Defense of Those Persecuted Because of Their Beliefs under the aegis of Solidarity. During martial law, he was interned in Jaworzno.

From 1990 to 1995, he served as ambassador of Poland to Austria, and from March 6 to December 22, 1995 was Poland's foreign minister. From 1997 until 2001, when his term ended, Bartoszewski was a senator in the Polish parliament. On July 1, 2000, he was once again named foreign minister, a post which he held until the end of the Buzek government in October 2001. Since June 2001, he has been the chairman of an organization committed to preserving the memory of past victims of wars and persecution, the Rada Ochrony Pamieci Walk i Meczenstwa. He is also the chairman of the International Auschwitz Counsil.

During the years 1983-1990, he was guest lecturer in Munich, Eichstaett and Augsburg. He has been granted many academic titles, including that of professor, which he was awarded in 1983 by the Bavarian government, as well as honorary doctorates in philosophy and humanities from four universities. In 1986, he was granted the Commander's Cross with a star of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the president of the Polish government in exile for his work in the field of Polish-Jewish affairs, among other things. In 1995, he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle. In 2001, he was awarded the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his contribution towards the reconciliation of Germans, Poles and Jews.

He was one of the first Poles to receive the Righteous among the Nations of the World medal in Jerusalem in 1963. In 1991, he was granted honorary Israeli citizenship.

He has written approximately forty books and over 1,200 articles, primarily about the German occupation. Among his most important academic contributions were his lecture at the Crooked Circle Club in 1961, titled "Poles-Jews-Occupation", and his book published a few years later by the Znak publishing house, co-authored with Z. Lewinowna, titled Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej: Polacy z pomocš Żydom 1939-1945 (English title, The Samaritans: Heroes of the Holocaust), about Poles who aided Jews, risking their own lives to do so.
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