The Association of "Children of the Holocaust" in Poland


23 and 24 March, 2006

The Presentation of the Irena Sendler Award "For repairing the world"
Irena Sendlerowa

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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.

Irena Sendlerowa, dyplomy

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In the ceremonial rooms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the director Pawel Dobrowoski does the honours.

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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 work.

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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.

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The chair of the Association, Elzbieta Ficowska, reminds the audience about the origins of the Award, and presents the award-winners and their work.

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"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!"

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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."

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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."

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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."

Irena Sendlerowa

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