Prof. Dr. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski
Politician, Historian, journalist, former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs
DAAD Scholarship 1982
"Wherever I talk to people, I try to bring them closer together and to fight against stereotypes. I see that as my mission." Władysław Bartoszewski always stood up for people. At just 18 years of age, the Pole joined the resistance against the Nazis and helped persecuted Jews. During a police raid against Polish intellectuals in September 1940, he was taken away to Auschwitz Concentration Camp from where he returned seriously ill in April 1941. Only many years later the historian and publicist was able to report on his experiences in Auschwitz in his first German autobiography Herbst der Hoffnungen (Autumn of Hopes). That was in 1983, just after spending a year at the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin on a DAAD scholarship.
We have come a long way, but there is still so much to do.
After the war, the journalist was only a free man for a short time. He spent seven years in Stalinist jails. He was rehabilitated in 1955. Later, he worked in journalism and higher education and wrote numerous books and essays. From 1973 Bartoszewski taught as a professor at the Catholic University Lublin. His political commitment took him into the Solidarnosc trade union movement. Bartoszewski was again arrested with the imposition of martial law in 1981. Protests by friends in the West led to his release five months later. He came to know Germany well. After a one year gap, he taught modern history at the universities of Munich, Eichstätt and Augsburg from 1983 to 1990. He then went to Vienna as the first non-communist Polish ambassador. In 1995 he served his country as foreign minister for a few months. That was when he gave his famous speech before the German Bundestag on the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Bartoszewski again held office as foreign minister from July 2000 to September 2002. In November 2007 he became secretary of state and the prime minister's plenipotentiary for international relations.
In everyday life, the holder of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade viewed relations between Poland and Germany as follows: "We have come a long way, but there is still so much to do." He continued to work untiringly to promote German-Polish relations and often came to Germany for readings and lecturers. The beginning of 2005 saw the publication of his book Und reiss uns den Hass aus der Seele – Die schwierige Aussöhnung von Polen und Deutschen (And Tear the Hate from the Soul – the Difficult Reconciliation between Poles and Germans). In 2010 he published Über Deutsche und Polen. Erinnerungen. Prognosen. Hoffnungen. (On Germans and Poles, Memories, Forecasts, Hopes).
Władysław Bartoszewski died in 2015 at the age of 93. The sorrow felt at the loss of a great politician was reflected in the German press landscape. Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged him as a “man of vision and courage” in her letter of condolence.