The Association of "Children of the Holocaust" in
23 and 24 March, 2006
The Presentation of the Irena Sendler Award "For repairing the
The ceremony of presenting the Irena Sendler
Award to the winners from Poland and the USA
took place 23 and 24 March 2006.
This year, as an exception, it was Irena
Sendler herself who chose the award-winners.
From 2007 two boards of judges, one in Poland and
one in the USA, will give the award to teachers.
Robert Szuchta (at left) and Norman
Conard after receiving the Award from Irena
Sendler. Irena asks them to be unremitting
in their efforts: humanity still hasn't learned
the lessons of the Holocaust. We still have wars:
tribal, racial, and national. The spectre of xenophobia
is still a menace.
In the ceremonial rooms of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs the director Pawel Dobrowoski does
Present are the official guests, representatives
of embassies, Jewish circles, journalists, and
friends of the award-winners. Irena Sendler is
talking from the screen to those present. She
says that even today repairing the world is hard
Minister Anna Fotyga, underlines
two strands in Irena Sendler's life:
she thought not only about saving life, but also
about saving the identity of Ghetto children,
and moreover she ascribes a great importance
to upbringing, because hatred of others is a constant
companion even in our time.
The chair of the Association, Elzbieta
Ficowska, reminds the audience about
the origins of the Award, and presents the
award-winners and their work.
"I started to teach, and so I touched
the future", says the award-winner from
the USA, Norman Conard, quoting the American
saying. He says that he is lucky to work in the
most wonderful of all occupations. And the more
he visits Poland, the more he learns to love
this country and the more he can appreciate Irena
Sendler: "A Polish Catholic, who
saved Jewish children, and my American Protestants
are telling about her!"
The Polish award-winner, Robert Szuchta,
tells about his work with young people. The dominant
theme of his speech was, however, something else:
one of the participants of a recent project
of the Association "Children of the Holocaust",
a teacher of the Polish language from Bialystok,
was viciously attacked on a neo-fascist
internet page. "This woman teaches young
people with the utmost dedication about the multicultural
heritage of Poland. And she is persecuted for
the same thing that you are giving me the award
for today. Many people protested. Voices of indignation
were heard from the outside world. I feel
bad about this - it upsets me. I often remind
my pupils of the idea of Zofia Kossak-Szczucka,
that a person who is passive in the face
of evil is its co-perpetrator."
Marek Edelman, came for today's
ceremony directly from Irena Sendler.
She is sad. She said to him: "The ghosts
are returning. There is so much hatred and xenophobia
about. What can we do?" He answered: "Teach
and educate in the first place, but also shout
loudly. And fight. Do not allow cowards, who
are hiding in the corners today, to acquire strength.
Force the authorities on every level to prosecute
and punish these criminals. I dream that
the winner of the Irena Sendler Award
next year will be none other than this persecuted
teacher from Bialystok."
Renata Skotnicka - Zajdman read
the congratulatory letter from the chair of the
World Federation of Associations "Children
of the Holocaust", Stefania Seltzer: "You
are the new generation of the Righteous Among
the Nations - you are our brothers and sisters."