Dear young people!
We hope that you will be the generation that wants to live in peace and the understanding of that which took place during the war in the years 1939- 1945.
Regarding the question of how to pass on the knowledge and conclusions you have come to, to the following generations, we believe that you know best how to and don’t need our help for this. It pleases us – former prisoners and concentration camp prisoners – that German and Polish youth meet together to discuss, to try to discover the truth and the reasons for why it took place like it did.
Many of us former prisoners meet together regularly with German and Polish young people. There is still much interest on both sides.
The question regarding our attitude to the Germans is rather insignificant. A third generation has grown up. Of course, it is hard for this generation to understand how their country with such a rich history and high culture could intend to destroy other nations. We know the outcome for those who suffered and for those who were the perpetrators.
Presently, there is the possibility for us to get to know one another better. Young people surely take advantage of this. As a Sign of Repentance, young people from Germany come to the Museum at Majdanek on a yearly basis and work here as volunteers. We meet and cooperate with them.
We are involved in the Maksymilian Kolbe Association. Together we visit former prisoners. We converse with them about what they experienced and about how they are coping with life now. Over the Christmas period, volunteer Friederike Romer travelled with us, and as she herself said, they often talked about the war and the Holocaust in her home. It wasn’t enough for her to learn about history, she wanted to understand it.
The history of the concentration camps is not just Auschwitz-Birkenau, it is more as there were more camps in Poland, Germany and other countries. The conditions in all were similar.
We would like to quote the words of the Holy Father during his visit to Majdanek on 1987 as part of his pilgrimage. In a meeting with former prisoners he said, “Never stop being a witness of those who were killed here. Never stop being a warning for all generations to come after you, because you carry the stigma of a terrible experience, not just of your nation, but of many whose names are written here. May all remember, may it be a reminder for future generations that man must not become a tormentor to his fellow man; that man must remain a brother to his fellow man.”
We live in a time where conditions are right for our nations Germany and Poland to live in friendship. The cooperation of the young people must be based on truth, forgiveness and understanding of what took place in the past.
May our remarks and observations be helpful in defining the further cooperation between German and Polish youth.
Polish Union of former Political Prisoners of Nazi Prisons and Concentration Camps
Translated by Karen Forth