Piotr Gliński made the remark at a seminar about the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which was held at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Entitled Legacy of the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto 1943-2023, the event was organised by MEPs with Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Anna Fotyga and Adam Bielan, according to officials.
The seminar was accompanied by the launch of an exhibition about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, entitled City of the Living, City of the Dead, put together by the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, the IAR news agency reported.
Both events were held in the run-up to the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against Poland's Nazi German occupiers during World War II, officials said.
Gliński told the seminar that after Poland was partitioned by Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1795, Polish people rose repeatedly against the occupying powers in a bid to regain independence.
He said that, as a result, an “armed struggle for independence became an experience shared by many generations of our national community, who hailed from various ethnic, cultural and social groups.”
'Polish imperative to seek freedom'
Gliński stated: “The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, whose 80th anniversary we are now marking, was the first big-city uprising and the biggest revolt of the Jewish people during the German occupation.”
He added: “Another major urban revolt was the 63-day-long Warsaw Uprising in 1944. And so Warsaw is a city of two uprisings. This fact demonstrates the power of the Polish imperative to seek freedom.”
He paid tribute to "thousands" of his compatriots who were helping save Jews from the Holocaust, even though in German-occupied Poland, such assistance carried the death penalty.
Gliński stated: “In Poland, anti-Semitism is not allowed and there is no place for it in our country. Jewish people can feel safe in Poland.”
He also said that anti-Semitic incidents were “isolated” and "15 times less numerous than in Germany."
The Polish deputy prime minister added that any anti-Semitic incidents “must be combated, including through education, both about the Holocaust and the many centuries during which Poles and Jews have coexisted.”
'Remembrance must last for eternity'
The European Parliament exhibition combines archival photographs of the Warsaw Ghetto with snapshots of contemporary life in the Polish capital.
Gliński said at the exhibition's launch: “Today, Warsaw is a city of the living. But we are not forgetting about those who died or were killed. Remembrance, passed from generation to generation, must last for eternity.”
'Innocent victims of German war machine'
The deputy prime minister paid tribute to “the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the innocent victims of the German war machine.”
He said: “We remember about the past and based on historical experiences, we seek to build a better future.”
'Part of the history of the Polish state': ex-FM
Meanwhile, Fotyga, a former Polish foreign minister, said that the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising “is part of the history of the Polish state.”
She hailed the Jewish insurgents, saying “they were dying full of fighting spirit, with dignity, with weapons in hand, demonstrating to the whole world their opposition to the German crimes against the Jewish nation.”
She added: “But they were also fighting on behalf of Poland.”
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which broke out on April 19, 1943 and lasted until May 16, was the first uprising in German Nazi-occupied Europe and the largest act of armed resistance by Jews in World War II. It is estimated that about 13,000 insurgents died in the ghetto during the revolt.
Some surviving Jewish combatants later fought in the Warsaw Uprising, launched by Poland's underground Home Army (AK) on August 1, 1944.
The Warsaw ghetto, established in April 1940, was the largest of the many ghettos which the Germans set up across Poland to isolate the Jewish population after invading the country in September 1939.
Source: IAR, PAP, gov.pl, niezalezna.pl