‘Righteous Gentile’ Joins Polish Government

An Auschwitz survivor and “righteous gentile” was named to the Polish government. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 85, is the new secretary of state responsible for Poland’s relations with Germany, Russia and Israel.

Bartoszewski, who has been foreign minister of Poland twice since the end of communism, spearheaded the anti-Nazi underground government’s aid to Jews during World War II. He has been recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Museum and Memorial in Jerusalem. He joins the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a centrist politician who defeated his more conservative rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Relations with Israel were largely positive during Kaczynski’s term, with Poland as a fierce defender of Israeli interests in the European Union. Relations with Germany, however, dramatically declined as the former prime minister repeatedly invoked Germany’s Nazi past. Relations with Russia were equally poor, with both countries carrying old grudges in their economic and political disputes.