The Władysław Bartoszewski Chair Collegium Civitas

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The Władysław Bartoszewski Chair Collegium Civitas

Exhibition: Bartoszewski 1922-2015. More than just a sense of decency.

Collegium Civitas invites you to an exhibition, open to the public from 17 November 2015, entitled Bartoszewski 1922-2015. More than just a sense of decency. Władysław Bartoszewski, who died on 24 April 2015, was a former Auschwitz prisoner, a participant in the wartime underground resistance, a member of the Council for Aid to Jews, a repressed anti-Communist opposition activist, an advocate of Polish-German and Polish-Jewish reconciliation, the Polish Ambassador in Austria (after the fall of Communism), twice foreign minister, a senator and an advisor to the prime minister. This exhibition, presenting the most important aspects of his life and work, is divided into three sections.

The first, entitled Against the Tide, is the story of Władysław Bartoszewski’s activity in the underground against German occupation, his experience of persecution in the post-war years of the Polish People’s Republic—including years in Stalinist prisons and internment during martial law—and his consistent commitment to the cause of freedom.

The second, entitled Memory, describes the responsibility of a person saved from Auschwitz, his numerous passions including the chronicling of events, the documentation of the fate of his home town, the preservation of the memory of the victims as well as the perpetrators, and his strenuous endeavour to communicate historical truth whatever the cost, through books, lectures and community work such as his activity in the Międzynarodowa Rada Oświęcimska (International Auschwitz Council) and the Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa (Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom).

The last section, entitled Reconciliation, is dedicated to his uncompromising engagement in the fight against manifestations of anti-Semitism, the search for avenues of contact with the State of Israel and the worldwide Jewish diaspora, and the first attempts to establish relations with like-minded people of good will in Germany, from the early postwar years to Władysław Bartoszewski’s diplomatic work in the last years of his life.

The exhibition is a multimedia experience. Visitors can, amongst others, watch Władysław Bartoszewski’s first television appearances from 1963 or discover excerpts of his famous speech before the German parliament in 1995. You will also be able to listen to audio samples from Radio Free Europe through authentic 1950s loudspeakers. There will be plenty of photos, documents and memorabilia (including precious originals) gathered together thanks to the effort of the Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich (National Ossoliński Institute) as well as Warsaw’s municipal libraries.

An important part of the exhibition is the collection of quotes from Władysław Bartoszewski printed in large fonts. Bartoszewski 1922-2015.  More than just a sense of decency is the story of a man who was not afraid to go against the tide in the name of ambitious objectives, namely the fight for historical memory and national reconciliation.  This is the history of a witness and a participant of the most dramatic events of the 20th century, a man whose life, despite tragic personal experiences, was characterised, right to the end, by “moderate optimism” and faith in people.

Until now, the exhibition, being located in the building of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, has had limited access. Collegium Civitas, for the first time, will present it to a wider public.