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Sunday, 11 September 2005

Visit by the President of the Republic of Poland and the First Lady to the United States

On 11 September 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the First Lady met in San Francisco representatives of Polish expatriate community from Bay Area. 
During the meeting, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski thanked the Polish expatriate community for the support extended “along the road to freedom and then to NATO”. “We know very well that without your patriotic sentiments and deeds there would no free Poland” stressed President Aleksander Kwaśniewski.
The Polish President appealed to the representatives of the expatriate community to strengthen ties with their old Homeland. He also encouraged those present to expand youth exchange schemes between Polish ethnic communities and Poland and urged all to visit their Homeland – come and see for yourself how quickly our country is changing and moving with the times. Encourage your American friends to come on a visit as well said Aleksander Kwaśniewski.
After the meeting with the Polish expatriate community, on the invitation of the San Francisco Mayor, the Polish delegation with the President of the Republic of Poland attended at the St. Monika’ Church a remembrance service held to pay homage to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After the Holy Mass, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski said the following addressing Polish journalists: a moment ago, here in San Francisco, we had a chance to pay homage to those who were rescuing people on that memorable day - 11 September - four years ago. Our presence here today is a token expression of our solidarity with the victims, our solidarity with the rescuers and our solidarity with all people that fight against terrorism, that side up to oppose evil and forestall calamities that can strike from any direction.  Like the disaster in the southern states, the devastation caused by the hurricane in Louisiana. All this shows once again how important solidarity among people is, how important it is for us to act hand in hand, how important international solidarity has become today. How valid the word solidarity is today. I believe that every passing day shows that no grain of the notion of solidarity has become dated. If we want to overcome the problems facing the world of today, we have to stand united.  
In the evening, President of the Republic of Poland accompanied by the First Lady held a meeting with the representatives of the Hoover Institution and attended a dinner hosted by the Chairman of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture

Toast proposed by the President of the Republic of Poland,  Aleksander Kwaśniewski, at dinner with the donors for the Polish Jews  History Museum:

 Honorable Mister Taube! Ladies! Gentlemen! Dear Friends!
I wish to warmly welcome the participants of this meeting and to express particular gratitude to our Host, Mister Tad Taube. Being a Cracovian by birth  and a Californian businessman  and a patron today,  Mister Taube is a personage of great merit to the cause of shaping the Polish-Jewish relations and one deeply committed  to the renaissance and development of the Jewish culture in Poland. Mister Taube was kind to assemble us all here for an important and useful purpose. As intended by the Honorable Host,  the arrival of each of the guests for  this dinner today marks their declaration of support for the very important  and universally-awaited initiative to build in Warsaw the Polish Jews History Museum. Ladies and Gentlemen, please accept my heartfelt words of thanks for your precious readiness.  
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Poland, where Europes most numerous Jewish community had lived until 1939, nurtures the painful memory of the Shoah of this nation, perpetrated by  the German Nazis on our conquered soil. The Polish people commemorate those horrible experiences, express our grief  and compassion in many forms. The sites of remembrance of the Jewish nations tragedy are cultivated  with particular care in Poland. And, quite extraordinarily,  there is in present-day Poland a growing interest in the world of Polish Jews,  their history and custom,  their abundant culture blended in our history, a culture which flourished for such a long time especially among us in Poland.
Everyone who knows Poland today can easily see that whereas the Polish people have espoused the great moral obligation  to eternalize the memory of the Holocaust genocide, they nowadays add to this obligation another pledge – they  vow to themselves and to the world to save from oblivion the picture of the Jews past life in our country.  They desire to remember that the Jews were among us with their tradition, religion, their philosophy and literature. They shared much from us  and they gave us as much. They lived their lives to the full. They had been only a step alongside us  for almost one thousand years. And suddenly they disappeared. But we do not want the memory of that world to perish. We want to raise  the Polish Jews History Museum,  where we will prominently and duly depict the Holocaust tragedy as part  of the exhibition. But being a nation that has itself in its history pulsed back to life many a time,  we also want, while commemorating  the victims and venerating the survivors  of that most horrible of tortures,  convey to the entire world our faith  in the triumph of life!
The Polish Jews History Museum,  to the design and construction of which  I have extended the patronage  of the President of the Republic of Poland, will be restoring the memory  about the Jewish world in Poland.  It will be a tale of a long,  creative and abundant presence of many generations of Jews among us. We shall revive the gone world of the zaddiks in Góra Kalwaria, poor shtetls (shtetlah) and factory owners palaces,  15th century yeshiva (yeshivah)  and 20th century men-of-letters cafeterias. We shall remember Polish patriots –  the heroic colonel Berek Joselewicz (Yoselevich) who died for Poland  in the battle against the Austrians,  and the Jewish soldiers of the battle  of Monte Cassino. We shall remember  the Theatre of Esther Rachel Kamińska  and the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein who in San Francisco Opera House played the Dąbrowski Mazurka in protest against the injustice of not inviting Poland,  a founder of the United Nations,  to the concert marking the establishment  of the World Body. We shall recall that without the many Jews coming from Poland, it is hard to imagine either the Polish or global culture. Poland was the birthplace of Nobel Prize laureates Albert Michelson  and Isaac Bashevis Singer,  industrialists André Citröen  and Max Factor, vitamin researcher  and name-giver Casimir Funk  and the architect of the Hollywood power, Samuel Goldwyn. Born in Poland were the co-founder  of the State of Israel David Ben-Gurion  and the Prime Minister of Israel,  the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Menachem Begin.
For more than a half-century,  the ominous shadow of the Holocaust  lay over the long record of common history of the Poles and the Jews. But, after all, a great deal has taken place before and after the Holocaust. We will not avoid the difficult issues. We shall not forget the disgraceful events. We want the thorough knowledge  of the past serve well the good,  Polish-Jewish future. We want the Museum, a state-of-the-art, breathtaking design of Finnish architects, to be an information and educational centre so that it educates by filling the gap  in the memory of the generations,  the gap that is painfully felt today not only in Poland.
I wish to propose a toast:
- to the good health and prosperity  of our Host, Mister Tad Taube
- to the success of the Polish Jews  History Museum project
- to the Polish-Jewish reconciliation  and friendship and to the comprehensive collaboration between Poland  and the United States of America.
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