Commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the death of Grigol Peradze attended by the President of Georgia
80th anniversary of the death of archimandrite Grigol Peradze, Orthodox martyr saint murdered in the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz on 6 December 1942, was commemorated at the Auschwitz Memorial. Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia, participated in the commemoration event.
Panikhida, Orthodox memorial service for the repose of those murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, was also attended among others by the representatives of the Partriarchate of Georgian Orthodox Church, priests of Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, delegation of the Georgian Colony in Poland as well as representatives of the University of Warsaw. The guests were accompanied by Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz Museum. Wreaths were laid after the prayer by the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11.
'Being here, in this place, it is very difficult to find the words that could describe what had happened here, at the gates of hell. It is probably the greatest source of shame for humanity. This place shows what one’s hatred towards fellow human being, intolerance and evil may lead to. We need to remember here that today, the evil takes place in Irpin, in Bucha. Katyń is situated over a thousand kilometres from here. Auschwitz is the place where we can lose hope,' President Salome Zourabichvili said.
'At the same time, this place carries hope. The life of Grigol Peradze came to its end here. He himself, but also many others who perished within these walls, show us that a man can serve as the role model of bravery and courage and be full of heroism and sacrifice towards fellow human beings,” she added.
Then, the President of Georgia together with her delegation visited a fragment of the Museum exposition, among others Block 4, where basic information about people deported to Auschwitz, Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet POWs and others incarcerated at the camp by the Germans, is presented. Other exhibits to be found there are the model of a gas chamber and crematorium II from the Birkenau camp, Zyklon B cans as well as the hair of victims.
In Block 5 the visitors had the opportunity to see personal belongings of the victims of extermination, discovered in camp warehouses after the liberation. There are among others their shoes, suitcases, prostheses, glasses or kitchen utensils.
The meeting closing the ceremony was held at the auditorium hall of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, similarly to the President of Georgia, referred in his speech to the events in Ukraine: 'Today, on the day of the 80th anniversary of death of Saint Grigol Peradze, we are standing here, within the premises of the former KL Auschwitz camp, and looking at those events from this perspective. We all used to believe, irrespective of in which part of Europe or the world we lived, that after that war, the world would be different. It seems to me that the era that we used to call post-war has already come to its end.'
'Today we understand it better than in the past what memory is supposed to constitute for us and for future generations. There is nowhere else than memory where we have such a great opportunity to acquire certain knowledge, understanding and warning so that the world does not become what it used to be eight decades ago,' he emphasized.
During the meeting, a new stamp of the Polish Post Office and Georgian Post Office entitled “Grigol Peradze” and designed by Dr. David Kolbaia was presented.
The guests also listened to two presentations. Dr. David Kolbaia, representing the Center for East European Studies of the University of Warsaw, presented the circumstances in which Grigol Peradze had been arrested basing on documents stored at the Polish Library in London, while Teresa Wontor-Cichy from the Museum Research Center presented the subject of religious life at the Auschwitz camp.
'I bow before the martyrdom of St. Grigol Peradze, who transformed into one of the candles among the millions that shined the light in the darkness that still convinces us to this day of the invincibility of goodness' , Salome Zurabiszwili wrote in the Museum memorial book.
The Centre for East European Studies of the University of Warsaw co-organized the event.
Grigol Peradze was born on September 13th 1899 in Bakurciche, Kaheti province in Georgia, in the family of an Orthodox priest. After his theological studies in Georgia and Russia he also studied at the faculty of philology of the university in Tbilisi. In 1921 the authorities of Georgian Orthodox church sent him to study theology in Berlin, where he was awarded a Master degree in theology and in 1926 in Bonn, he defended his doctoral thesis.
In 1931 in Paris Grigol Peradze took religious vows and was ordained priest. His dream had been to become a theological school lecturer. It came true in 1933 when Metropolitan Dionizy invited him to Warsaw and offered the position of deputy professor of patrology and head of the patristic seminar at the Orthodox Theology School at the University of Warsaw. In January 1934 in Saint Sophia’s Greek Cathedral in London he received the rank of archimandrite.
He took part in numerous scientific expeditions, among others to the Holy Land, Syria, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Italy. He also conducted his research after the outbreak of WW2. He is the author of over 70 works in total, devoted mainly to patrology.
On 5 May 1942 he was arrested by gestapo and deported to the Auschwitz camp, where he perished on December 6th 1942. The information on is death appeared in the records of the Information Bureau of the Home Army (AK) Headquarters.