'Polish Wallenburg' honoured in Silesia
PR dla Zagranicy
Ceremonies are being held in Jastrzębie-Zdrój, Silesian region, in honour of Henryk Sławik, a Polish politician and diplomat who helped save over 30, 000 Polish refugees, including 5,000 Polish Jews, in Hungary during World War Two.
Monument dedicated to the 'Polish Wallenburg' in Katowice, southern Poland: photo - Katowicach, foto: Michał Bulsa/Wikipedia
Henryk Sławik was born in what is now a part of Jastrzębie-Zdrój 120 years ago.
A mass was celebrated in his memory in the local church and a commemorative plaque was unveiled in tribute to a man who is described by historians as the hero of three nations – Polish, Jewish and Hungarian and the 'Polish Wallenberg’, a reference to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousand of Jews while serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest in 1944.
During World War Two, Sławik created the Citizens’ Committee for Help to Polish Refugees in Hungary and became a delegate of the Polish Government-in-exile.
He worked closely with Jozsef Antall, senior (the father of the future Hungarian Prime Minister).
After Polish refugees of Jewish descent were separated from their colleagues pending racial decrees issued by the Hungarian government, Sławik provided them with false documents confirming their Polish roots and Roman Catholic faith.
Following the Nazi take-over of Hungary, he went underground and arranged for Polish Jews to leave Hungary and survive the Holocaust.
He was arrested by the Germans in March 1944. Although brutally tortured he did not betray Antall and his Hungarian friends. He was hanged in the Mauthause concentration camp.
In 1977 he was posthumously given the title of Righteous Among the Nations and in 2010 he received the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state distinction.
\A wide range of events in tribute to Henryk Sławik to be held later this year has been outlined at a press conference in Jastrzębie-Zdrój. They include a mass celebrated by the Primate of Hungary, a run from Jastrzębie-Zdrój to Mauthausen, a premiere of a para-documentary film about Sławik and Antall, as well as exhibitions, lectures, school competitions and city games. (mk/pg)