Cornelia Pieper, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Coordinator of German-Polish Intersocietal and Cross-Border Cooperation, issued the following statement today on the 90th birthday of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski:
“This Sunday, 19 February 2012, will mark the 90th birthday of the historian, writer, journalist, former foreign minister, current secretary of state in the Chancellery of the Chairman of the Polish Prime Minister and plenipotentiary for international dialogue Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.
Bartoszewski was born in Warsaw in 1922. He was imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War, and after his release joined the Polish resistance to German occupation; he became a soldier in the underground Home Army and took part in the Warsaw Uprising. As a leading member of the Żegota committee, he helped save many Jews, for which he was honoured after the war as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Repeatedly interned during the Stalinist era, he worked as a journalist, historian, essayist and writer, and later held multiple guest professorships, including positions at prominent German universities. Active in the opposition in Communist Poland, he was interned once more during the imposition of martial law in 1981-1982 and was a key figure in democratic change in Poland in 1989. He first served as Polish Foreign Minister in 1995, and a second term followed in 2000-2001. In his political and social engagement Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has always worked with full conviction and great vigour to further and shape reconciliation with Germany as well as German-Polish dialogue at all levels. Among the first people to personally cultivate political contacts with the Federal Republic of Germany, he is one of the fathers of German-Polish reconciliation. While Poland and Germany now take their friendship and joint efforts towards a united Europe as a given, such a relationship would only a short time ago have seemed inconceivable. This tremendous success has been due in no small part to Bartoszewski’s personal dedication.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has done an immeasurable service to the freedom of Europe and to German-Polish reconciliation. I would like to thank him most sincerely for this.
I wish Wladyslaw Bartoszewski all the very best on his 90th birthday!”