Poniatowa Remembrance and Warning to Future Generations.

 

                                                                                    Poniatowa, February 26th, 2004

  

     My name is Artur Podgórski - I come from a small Polish town in Eastern Poland where I spend my childhood and where I heard the older generation tell stories about my hometown. I could not foresee then just how much I would be affected by the history of my town, the mysteries of the old factory and surrounding forest in which during the war there existed a labor and death camp. Here, in this place called Poniatowa, in 1941-43 several thousand people were killed.

 

     I attended the school for some time near the buildings where the prisoners used to work, and finished their life in death pits. For several years I attended school in the building where the prisoners used to work, and later ended their lives in the death pits. I went to school along the some road that the prisoners walked to work.

  

  Since then, many things have changed. The forest has grown, new buildings have been built and even the old Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke has been rebuilt. The former labour camp is no more; only the memory of the victims and the places where they were murdered remain. But today there are few who remember.

 

     I stay away from politics concerning the past and have adopted to the present .I hear with sorrow virulent comments from both sides, and see history as misunderstandings between our nations

    

The war affected everyone; everyone was afraid for his life but fought without considering the consequences. Everyone wanted to survive, but the enemy was often well hidden.

    

      For me, as a human being, most important are the fates of people and the memories passed from one person to another  in the name of believed ideology.

   

     The most important thing for me is to make people to discover the historical mystery of Poniatowa labor camp. How did it happen? Why have people today so easy forgotten their own history? They have forgotten the history of their own  country; they have forgotten about the bloody places of martyrdom.

 

     Perhaps you could tell me why this has happened. As I am very interested in the place as it is  now, about the people’s indifference, I decided not to talk about it to everyone, but instead to write a book about Poniatowa; I also intend making a documentary film which would show the town under German occupation, about normal people are still alive, the site of the factory, although in a bad condition but still working. About the place where people still come - looking for the graves of their relatives.

 

     In my collection I have a lot of photos taken in old labor camp and the smiling Germans as they left the camp.  I have also collected the testimonies of the main camp personnel made after the war. I have also collected the testimonies of local people who wished to testify. But even all this all material does tell the whole truth. The people no longer remember exactly how it was, some are still afraid even today.   I was very delighted - after searching for more than a year - to meet some survivors, and thanks to these eyewitnesses many of my doubts have been laid to rest.

   

 I know that for some people it will be difficult to relive these experiences and I am sure I am not the first to disturb your peace. I wish to reassure you that I take my research very seriously and respect the people involved.

 

     I must to tell the story of the forgotten  ‘szeol’, (hell) and thanks to your help it is possible to extend my knowledge, and also that of the people of Poniatowa. There are still people weeping for their relatives, still looking for them, still living in hope.

   

 Since the end of the war there has not been any serious book about Poniatowa. History has been silent about the subject, ignored it, or even falsified the history – despite the fact that documentary evidence d eyewitnesses existed  The only books to date are by the Frenchman, Samuel Hoffenberg,  “Le Camp de Poniatowa” and the short book by Ryszard Gicewicz, which is not available to everyone .

      

Once again, I appeal to you, as a former prisoner of Poniatowa who can hear the cries of the murdered inmates, as one who remembers, and can understand what comes from my heart and from that place of slaughter. Please allow me the chance to speak in the name of history and the name of the survivors, and also on behalf of the dead, in remembrance and as a warning to future generations.

 

      May I thank you in anticipation of future contacts on this subject.

 

      Best Wishes,

 

Artur Podgórski

 

 

   

 

 

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