Poland and Germany commemorate liberation of Stutthof Nazi German concentration camp

On Saturday, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Deputy PM and Culture Minister Piotr Glinski, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, and his German counterpart Heiko Maas commemorated the 75th anniversary of Stutthof Nazi German concentration camp’s liberation and honoured its victims.

In his message, President Duda paid homage to "over 110,000 Poles (...), as well as Jews, Russians and Roma people, who were imprisoned and murdered in Stutthof Nazi German concentration and extermination camp." He also expressed his conviction that "an independent Poland will always honour the martyrdom of heroic residents of the Pomerania region, who paid the highest price for their loyalty to the homeland."

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz declared that preserving the memory of the victims of the Nazi German terror for future generations was everyone’s common duty.

"We can never allow the experience of those tragic days to be repeated...Never let the sacrifices of the people who suffered and were murdered in the Stutthof camp be forgotten by the world - as a warning to the next generations," emphasised Mr. Czaputowicz.

Next, he touched on contemporary Polish-German relations.

"Today's Germany is Poland's most important neighbour and partner in the EU and NATO. Together with our German partners, we have been taking part in building a united Europe on the foundation of Polish-German reconciliation. But, at the same time, the heritage of the past and care for preserving the historical truth is an inseparable part of our relations," Czaputowicz said.

In turn, German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas underlined that the Germans admitted their guilt and responsibility, "which will never cease to exist."

He added that the invitation to the commemoration event was very important to him because it was proof of the deep trust between the two countries and showed that Poland was ready to forgive. He stated that the Germans were extremely grateful for this and for everything which united Poles and Germans today. We have been jointly meeting the challenges facing us as neighbours and Europeans.

The Stutthof camp started operation on 2 September, 1939, near a town of the same name (today Sztutowo in Poland's northern Pomorskie province). Initially intended as a prison for the local Polish population, it was transformed into a concentration camp in 1942 and began receiving prisoners from various parts of Europe.