Former Polish President Visits Center Amidst Crisis in Europe
On February 22, the Center hosted a distinguished delegation from the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC) led by the Hon. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former President of Poland (1995-2005) and member of the BYHMC’s Supervisory Board. The visit took place amid rising tensions in Ukraine, just hours before Russia began its military operations.
During the meeting, President Kwaśniewski spoke about the importance of commemorating the untold and forgotten story of the Holocaust in Ukraine and Babyn Yar as a symbol of what is known as the “Holocaust by Bullets.” President Kwaśniewski stressed that the projects at Babyn Yar are key to fighting antisemitism and racism while honoring the memory of the victims.
President Kwaśniewski expressed his hope to promote cooperation between the BYHMC and the Center.
The BYHMC’s Artistic Director Ilya Khrzhanovsky also discussed his important role in designing an immersive experience that takes visitors on an emotional and historically fact-based journey to commemorate and honor the victims of the Holocaust’s largest single-mass-shooting and the largest mass grave in Europe.
The discussion ended with a conversation on current events in Ukraine. President Kwaśniewski noted that the world finds itself in a dreamlike situation and in different times, and noted that Russian President Vladmir Putin was using dangerous rhetoric that declares that Ukraine is neither a state nor a nation. The President stressed the importance of limited terms in democracy, noting that long periods in power project negatively on leaders’ conduct and self-perception.
The Head of the Center, Prof. Uriya Shavit, said: “We are honored to host such a distinguished delegation, led by a European icon of democracy and tolerance, a man for whom the lessons of the past are a constant moral obligation.”