Online educational session devoted to Polish foresters in KL Auschwitz
Online conference of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust dedicated to the fate of foresters deported to German Nazi Auschwitz camp and addressed to Polish State Forests staff was held on 29 June.
Among conference speakers there were Józef Kubica, acting Director General of State Forests, together with the co-authors of the recently published Memorial Book of Foresters Deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1944 “Księga pamięci Leśników deportowanych do KL Auschwitz w latach 1940-1944” – Piotr Kacprzak; Radosław Bąk, PhD, Eng.; Rev. Lucjan Bielas, PhD as well as Bohdan Piętka, historian of the Memorial Research Center.
The publication summarizes the history of at least 205 Polish foresters deported to Auschwitz. At least 170 of them perished there or in other camps to which they were transferred.
“The book constitutes a great testimony and reminder of what Polish foresters experienced in Auschwitz. It is also an opportunity to discover the fate of those murdered from the personalized perspective”, Andrzej Kacorzyk, ICEAH Director, said during the conference.
“As it was the case with other Polish prisoners, Polish foresters were deported to Auschwitz in connection with their involvement in the underground activity and the repressions resulting from terrorist activity of the German occupant”, Bohdan Piętka said.
“The foresters risked not only their own lives, but also the lives of their families. They could be found somewhere at the edge of the village, at the edge of the forest, where on one hand, guerrillas would live their life and have some expectations towards the foresters, where occupational authorities had some expectations towards them as well, and the same with villagers, who would partially live off the forest. Everyone had some expectations towards the foresters, while they were at their workplaces together with their families. So by getting involved in the underground activity, in the Polish case, a forester would risk not only his own life, but the life of his family as well”, said Lucjan Bielas.
Radosław Bąk, forester from the Chrzanów forest inspectorate, presented the importance of cooperation of the Auschwitz Memorial with the Forestry High School in Brynek: “We cooperated for over 30 years, over 1000 persons took part in this internship, as this is how we call it. The cooperation with the Museum was very successful as the Museum prepared for our school permanent exhibition and memorial room and had a very important influence on these young people in the area of their education. The Museum would always care for educating them effectively, the knowledge was made available in a reliable form and everyone who recalls the participation in this internship after many years has extensive knowledge of camp history. The educational work was performed very well."
Józef Kubica, acting Director General of State Forests, also mentioned the long-term cooperation of the Auschwitz Memorial with the Forestry High School in Brynek. What is more, Director Kubica emphasized the importance of the cooperation of the Memorial with State Forests and pointed out to the fact that such educational event “presents the representatives of our profession, foresters, their role and martyrdom of WW2”.
Joint letter by the Minister of Climate and Environment Michał Kurtyka and Deputy Minister Edward Siarka was also read during the conference.
“Deportation of Polish foresters to the German Auschwitz camp resulted from their important role and fight against the oppressor. Over 205 names of forestry staff members incarcerated in the Auschwitz camp are not only names, but specific human tragedies. The foresters whose memory we want to honour used to build independent Polish state. Without their dedication we would not have found ourselves where we are today. We are obliged to honour their heroic attitude as they lost their lives in cruel circumstances. Their sacrifice and steadfastness constitute our heritage and deserve the greatest respect and recognition”, one can read in the letter.
Memorial Book of Foresters Deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1944 “Księga pamięci Leśników deportowanych do KL Auschwitz w latach 1940-1944” was financed from the funds of State Forests and published at the initiative of Saint John Gwalbert’s Foresters Association “Proyas”. It is available free of charge in the PDF format.