The post below is signed by Emmanuel Cortey, Deputy Director of Yahad- In Unum, who is accompanying the research trip to Poland (Jun. 16th – Jul. 2nd).
Translation from French: Yelena Moskovich
Tuesday 2nd, 2014
On the long road to Warsaw, I am full of gratitude to each member of the team who, for the past 17 days, has worked so hard to save the memory of the greatest number of Polish Jews shot during the Second World War.
There are times when one single moment can epitomize the most complex feelings, a few words can disarm the deepest questions. As I watch the wheat fields roll by through my window, I drift into the memory of our arrival at Boguslaw’s house.
We are led inside by his son. Boguslaw is sitting with his back turned away from us. He is in a wheelchair. As the chair turns slowly around, I almost expect to see a villain from a spy movie. But the dramatic atmosphere immediately evaporates and we see clearly the man face, looking at us with warmth and friendship.
For 4 hours, he tells us everything he can remember witnessing of the killings of Jews of Bircza. It’s during this testimony that he pronounces the words that I will never forget. As a child during the German occupation, he transported milk to the dairy farm. One day a group of Jewish children began to tease him. A Jewish man intervened, saying : “Leave this boy and his milk alone! One day he will be the witness to the tragedy of our people!”
After he is done, Boguslaw looks at each one of us directly in the eyes and says : “I knew that this day would come. This day is today. I thank you for it.”
I wanted for all the members of Yahad to hear this phrase, as homage to their extraordinary work and commitment, so that not a single victim is forgotten.
I would like to thank Renata M. and Renata S. translators whose patience and precision truly impressed me. Dariusz, Hubert, Jacek, Krystof and Stanislaw who were untiring in their roles as investigator and drivers. Freddy (photographer) and David (cameraman) for so skillfully and delicately capturing the faces of the witnesses during their testimony. Thank you to Alex (interviewer) and to Michal (team leader / interviewer) who I look forwarding to seeing soon in Paris.