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Warsaw. Marian Turski celebrates his 97th birthday

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Marian Turski celebrates his 97th birthday on Monday. At the age of 14, he ended up in the ghetto, after the end of World War II he settled in Lower Silesia, and then in Warsaw. He is a historian, journalist, social activist and co-creator of the POLIN Museum. Marian Turski is a laureate of high awards from Poland, France, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Austria.

According to the POLIN Museum, Marian Turski – co-founder of the POLIN Museum and chairman of the Museum Council – celebrates his 97th birthday today. “We are happy and proud that we have the opportunity to work with you, Mr. Marian. Thank you for everything, we wish you joy and satisfaction with every passing day” – the Museum said.

The famous 11th commandment

In his speeches, Marian Turski repeatedly repeats not to be indifferent to evil. In this context, he refers to the Judeo-Christian tradition and the 10 commandments. He recalls the words of his friend Roman Kent, who invented the 11th commandment as a result of his experience of the Holocaust. It sounds like: don’t be indifferent.

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Marian Turski gave a moving speech on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. – This is what I would like to say to my daughter, grandchildren and their peers, wherever they live. In Poland, in Israel, in Eastern Europe – do not be indifferent if you see historical lies. When you see that the past is being stretched to meet the current needs of politics. Do not be indifferent when any minority is discriminated against. The essence of democracy is that the majority rules, but the rights of minorities must be protected. Do not be indifferent when any authority violates existing rights. Don’t be indifferent, because you won’t even notice if “some Auschwitz” suddenly falls from the sky on you, your descendants, said Turski at the time.

There was a similar call last year celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. – I have a duty to repeat the call: People, do not be indifferent to evil. People, be vigilant. It is very easy to gather supporters with hatred. But will it not bring destruction to me, you, you, our children and grandchildren? That is why those who sow hatred, I accuse “J’accuse”, said Turski at the time, quoting the French writer Emil Zola.

At the age of 14, he ended up in the ghetto

Marian Turski was born in 1926 in Druskininkai as Mosze Turbowicz. He was 14 when he ended up in the Łódź ghetto, where he was active in the underground organization Lewica Związkowa. In one of the last transports in 1944, he was transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. There, the Germans murdered his father and brother.

In 1945, he survived two death marches: in January – from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, in April – from Buchenwald to Theresienstadt, where on May 8, in a state of near agony, he was liberated by the Red Army.

After the end of World War II, he settled in Lower Silesia. In 1949 he moved to Warsaw.

Historian, journalist, social activist

He is a historian, journalist and social activist. Since 1958, he has been managing the history section of the “Polityka” weekly. He wrote, edited and edited over a dozen books, including: “Lumumba and His Country” (Warsaw, 1962), “Operation Terminal” (Warsaw, 1965), “They Were Children Back then” (Warsaw, 1975), “Peace Movement. People, Facts” (Warsaw, 1975), “Jewish Fate. Testimony of the Living” (Vol. I – Warsaw, 1996, Volume II – Warsaw, 1999, Volume III – Warsaw, 2006), “Polish Witnesses to the Shoah” (London, 2010) , “Art in Places of Death. European Monuments to the Victims of Nazism” (together with Halina Taborska, Kraków-Budapest-Syracuse, 2019), “What the Victims Knew About Their Fate” (Kraków, 2020), “XI Don’t Be Indifferent” (Wołowiec, 2021).

Marian Turski received the title of honorary citizen of the capital city of Warsaw, among others, for his many years of effort leading to the creation of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Muranów. From the beginning, he has also been the chairman of the Museum Council. He sits on the authorities of: the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland, the Association of Jewish War Veterans and Victims of World War II, the Council of the Wannsee Conference House – Memorial and Historical Education Site in Berlin.

He is the recipient of high awards

For many years he was the vice-president of the International Auschwitz Committee, and since June 11, 2021 he has been the president of this committee. – There are hateful events today, not only in Europe, which remind us of those times – said Marian Turski at the time. “It is precisely for this reason that we, the survivors of Auschwitz and the International Auschwitz Committee, must continue to be heard very clearly in the world,” he added.

On March 25, 2022, Marian Turski was awarded by the Senate of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University with the title of doctor honoris causa “for the noble fulfillment of the mission of the guardian of the common Polish-Jewish history, restoring faith in the causative power of free speech and the deep moral dimension of the commandment ‘Do not be indifferent’, which becomes universal human commitment to fellow men and the world.

Marian Turski is a laureate of high awards from Poland, France, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Austria.

Main photo source: Leszek Szymanski/PAP

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