Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski participated in the New Zealand celebrations of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day which took place on 27 January 2016 at the Parliament Buildings in Wellington. It was also the day of the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. During the ceremony at Makara Cemetery the government officials, diplomatic corps, the Jewish communities and young people laid symbolic stones at the Monument of the Victims of the Holocaust.
The second part of commemorations, held at the New Zealand Parliament, included speeches and awarding a prize in the school competition for an essay, the subject of which this year was dedicated to child victims of the Holocaust.

Amongst the speakers were the Attorney General Minister Chris Finlayson and the Polish Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski. Ambassador talked about Polish heroes who saved numerous children during WWII, such as Irena Sendler and Janusz Korczak. He then recalled the story of the family of Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their six children from Markowa, who hid Jewish people during the war and were all shot to death at the denunciation. The Ambassador cited the Yad Vashem Institute, which in 1995 found Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma as Righteous Among the Nations: "The murder of the Ulma family – an entire family that was killed together with the Jews they were hiding – has become a symbol of Polish sacrifice and martyrdom during the German occupation."

"6532 Poles were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. In contradistinction to the Western occupied Europe, the concealment of Jews by Poles was severely prosecuted - without exception by penalty of death. There was a need to present the facts – largely unknown – which show the role played by Poles in saving persons of Jewish nationality. The Ulma Family Museum in Markowa that opens in March, will be dedicated to Poles who saved Jews during World War II. "- said Ambassador Gniatkowski at the ceremony at the New Zealand Parliament.
Commemorations of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Wellington were attended by New Zealand ministers and MPs, Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown, diplomatic corps (including the ambassadors of the US, Germany, the Russian Federation, the Netherlands, Italy, the deputy head
of missions from Israel, UK and France), representatives of Jewish communities, academics and students.

Concluding, a student from Hawke’s Bay Joanna Pohe who was awarded for the best essay in the second edition of Paul Siedeman competition.


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