On March 8 at Warsaw’s Gdansk Train Station, Ambassador Jones and Embassy personnel took part in the commemoration of events of March 1968. Organized by the Shalom Foundation, Jewish Theater and Center for Yiddish Culture, the commemoration honored the 50th anniversary of the March 1968 purges in which thousands of Polish Jews were expelled from Poland by Communist authorities. Ambassador Jones gave remarks at the event, where Presidential Advisor Zofia Romaszewska read a letter from President Duda and Andrzej Klarkowski, advisor to Sejm Speaker Marek Kuchciński, laid a wreath in the train station’s courtyard under a commemorative plaque acknowledging the expulsion of Jews from this very location to Vienna and then destinations beyond. The plaque was inscribed with a quote from Henryk Grynberg, a Polish-Jewish writer and actor who survived the Nazi occupation, which read: “They left more than they had.” Poczta Polska Board Member Tomasz Dąbrowski and Shalom Foundation President Golda Tencer also unveiled a special edition postcard commemorating the March 1968 events to be issued by Poczta Polska.
In his remarks, Ambassador Jones called the expulsions in 1968 “a heart-breaking chapter in Poland’s history,” adding that the United States has also endured heart-rending chapters in its own history “when bigotry directed at minorities has hurt our nation, torn at our national fabric.” Ambassador Jones said such experiences “tell us that we have a collective responsibility – to each other, to minorities, to humanity – to make sure that the environment enabling such hideous acts is never tolerated.” Ambassador Jones commended the Shalom Foundation for bringing together people from different backgrounds and viewpoints “to promote a better understanding of our past so that we can create better understanding and tolerance for the future.” He added that “only through education, dialogue, and understanding – and the freedom of speech and media that make these possible – can we teach future generations that hate and bigotry are never right, and that tolerance and understanding are never wrong.”
The President of the Shalom Foundation Golda Tencer, Ambassador of Israel Anna Azari, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Sweden Ulrik Tidestroem, the Deputy Mayor of Warsaw Włodzimierz Paszyński, the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, and two of those expelled in March 68 – Andrzej Krakowski and Leon Rozenbaum (both now American citizens) – all spoke at the solemn event.