Poniatowa Remembrance and Warning to Future Generations.
Poniatowa, February 26th, 2004
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.