Władysław Bartoszewski and the Veterans of World War II
The Museum presented the 2013 Elie Wiesel Award to Władysław Bartoszewski of Poland, on behalf of all rescuers, and to all the American veterans who fought in World War II. Susan Eisenhower accepted the award on the veterans’ behalf.
Władysław Bartoszewski was 17 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and laid siege to his hometown of Warsaw. He was rounded up along with some 2,000 other innocent civilians and imprisoned in Auschwitz for six months. After the Polish Red Cross intervened, he was released in 1941.
Motivated by what he had witnessed at Auschwitz and despite knowing the dire consequences of defiance, he joined the resistance movement in Poland, playing a leading role in the Council for Aid to Jews, known as Zegota. He also provided assistance during the April 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising and sent reports on the Nazis’ treatment of Jews to the Polish government-in-exile.
Named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1965, he was one of the first Poles to be so recognized. In the decades after World War II he spoke out against the Communist government of Poland and was imprisoned for his actions. He later held important positions in the post-Communist era, including serving as Poland’s minister of foreign affairs.
Bravery and Sacrifice
In describing the typical, “truly heroic” soldier in the US armed forces during World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “His companion has been danger. Death has dogged his footsteps. He and his platoon commanders have given us an example of loyalty, devotion to duty, and indomitable courage that will live in our hearts as long as we admire those qualities.”
We are here to recognize you as liberators, not only of an entire continent but of the concentration camps you found along the way.
— Susan Eisenhower
More than 16 million Americans served in the US armed forces during World War II, some 416,000 of whom were killed and an additional 670,000 wounded. Their bravery and sacrifice defeated Nazi tyranny and freed the world from Nazi aggression.
Susan Eisenhower, General Eisenhower’s granddaughter, accepted the 2013 Elie Wiesel Award on behalf of all the veterans of World War II. Founding director and president of the Eisenhower Institute, she strives to fulfill her grandfather’s vision of public policy formation and leadership through programs that engage scholars, policy makers, students, and citizens.