Polish ex-minister and Nazi resister Bartoszewski dies at 93
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Auschwitz prisoner and member of Poland’s underground World War II resistance who helped save Jews and later served twice as the country’s foreign minister, died Friday in Warsaw. He was 93.
Bartoszewski died after being taken to a hospital in Warsaw on Friday afternoon. His death was confirmed by a number of leaders, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, who wrote on Twitter that he was deeply saddened.
It’s a very sad day for us,” European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, tweeted in tribute.
He had been a prominent figure in Poland’s politics since the collapse of communism, serving twice as the country’s foreign minister as well as a senator and ambassador to Austria. Most recently, he served as an international envoy of the Polish government.
Rounded up in 1940 by Nazi German soldiers occupying Warsaw, he was transported to the Auschwitz death camp and became one of its earliest prisoners, with the number 4427, before Germany devised its plan to kill Europe’s Jews. At the time, Auschwitz served mostly as a concentration camp for Polish intellectual elite.
After his release from the camp in 1941 he was a member of the Provisional Committee to Aid Jews, a body created by Catholic activists in Warsaw. For his work, he was awarded the title “the Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. He was also an honorary citizen of Israel.
Mr. Bartoszewski fought in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, a rebellion against Nazi German forces that was eventually crushed, leading to the destruction of Poland’s capital. After the war, with Poland trapped in the Soviet bloc, he was found guilty of espionage and spent almost a decade in prison before a court ruled he had been falsely accused.
Despite old age, he remained active in his final years. Five days before his death, he spoke at an event commemorating the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, which he had witnessed.
Mr. Bartoszewski was widely respected in Poland and Germany, helping overcome divisions between the historic foes that recently have forged close ties as neighbors and members of the same Western political and military alliances.
Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, left; Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former foreign minister; and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, pose while visiting an exhibition commemorating Polish-German reconciliation, in Krzyzowa, Poland, Thursday Nov. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, wsj.com ( Martin Sobczyk)
Cover photo: Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images