Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Auschwitz prisoner and member of Poland\’s underground World War II resistance who helped save Jews and later served twice as the country\’s foreign minister, died Friday in Warsaw. He was 93.
Bartoszewski died after being taken to a hospital in Warsaw on Friday afternoon. His death was confirmed by a number of leaders, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, who wrote on Twitter that he was deeply saddened.
"This is a huge loss; a great Pole has left us," Komorowski wrote.
Bartoszewski was widely respected not only for his wartime resistance, but also as a writer, historian, social activist and politician. Bartoszewski devoted himself in the years after the fall of communism to Polish-German reconciliation.
Just on Sunday Bartoszewski took a leading role at observances marking the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, speaking with energy and at length to a group gathered to honor the fallen ghetto fighters.
Bartoszewski, who was Catholic, was born in 1922 in Warsaw. When he was still just a teenager he fought in the defense of Warsaw against the Germans, who invaded the country in September 1939. Caught in a street roundup in Warsaw in 1940, he was sent to Auschwitz, which was first used by the Nazis for Polish resistance fighters. There he was given the prison number 4427.
He was released in April 1941 thanks to the efforts of the Polish Red Cross, which he had worked for before his arrest.
He later joined Poland\’s underground army and began to work with a unit of the resistance devoted to saving Jews known as Zegota. He also joined the city-wide revolt against the Germans in 1944 knows as the Warsaw Uprising.
In 1965 he was honored by Yad Vashem, Israel\’s official Holocaust memorial, as a "Righteous Among the Nations" for his efforts to help Jews. He was also made an honorary citizen of Israel.
SOURCE – AFP