Barbara Dillon Hillas reports on last night’s ceremony at the American embassy in Warsaw recognizing Wladyslaw Bartoszewski with the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Public Service Award. Who is Wladyslaw Bartoszewski? Barbara writes that at one time his story would have filled the public prints:
By the time he was 17 years old, Mr. Bartoszewski had survived being imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau for 8 months. He was a co-founder of the Zegota movement, that saved thousands of Jews, was a member of the Underground Army (resistance movement), acted as a courier, and fought in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
If this were not enough, after the war was over, he was twice imprisoned by the Communist regimes in Poland, one time such imprisonment lasting more than 6 years. He worked for Radio Free Europe for 18 years, became Foreign Minister of Poland twice, was made an honorary citizen of Israel and is a member of the Righteous Among the Nations of the World. He writes books and tells stories.
His life stories can’t help some of us wonder, what would we have done under similar circumstances? What made a teen-ager rise up to the cause and fight so hard to preserve sanity in a world gone insane? What made the young man keep on fighting despite the demoralizing post-World War II events that catapulted Poland into 50 years of Communism?
He was once asked whether he regards his life as a success. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski answered,