His chief of staff, Krzysztof Szczerski, told public broadcaster Polish Radio that Duda’s speech would be one of “remembrance and respect for those who liberated the camp and above all for the victims of the criminal system that was introduced on Polish lands by the Third Reich.”
The Polish president, Szczerski stressed, would not enter into polemics with President Putin of Russia or respond to recent remarks by the Russian leader accusing Poland of participation in the Holocaust and joint responsibility for the outbreak of World War II.
“I don’t think we are going to respond to the Russian provocations in a way that would be an insult” to the memory of the victims of the war, Szczerski said.
The commemorative event at the site of the former Auschwitz camp is to bring together high-ranking politicians and royalty from many countries, including the presidents of Germany, Israel, Austria, Latvia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Finland, the king of Spain, and the royal couple from the Netherlands.
Russia is to be represented by its ambassador to Poland. Some 150 former Auschwitz prisoners and Holocaust survivors are to take part in the event.
Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on 27 January 1945.
It was the largest of the German Nazi concentration and death camps.
More than 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, as well as Poles, Roma, Soviet POWs and people of many other nationalities, perished there.
Four days before the gathering in Auschwitz, a Holocaust memorial event is to be held in Jerusalem on January 23.
Polish President Duda has declined an invitation to attend because he was not allowed to address the gathering, unlike his counterparts from Russia, Israel, Germany and France.