Bialystok remembers Esperanto's father 104 years on from his decease

The 104th anniversary of the Esperanto universal language's father Ludwik Zamenhof was celebrated with a wreath-laying at the foot of his statue in the north-eastern Polish city of Białystok - the great linguist’s birthplace.

The wreaths were laid by the Białystok authorities, representatives of Ludwik Zamenhof Centre and Esperanto speakers.

As Katarzyna Lewończuk-Barańczuk of the Ludwik Zamenhof Centre said during the commemoration that Zamenhof was born and spent his childhood in Białystok. "It is the multilingual 19th-century Białystok inspired him to invent and present the world with an antidote to misunderstandings, that is, the Esperanto language,” Ms Lewończuk-Barańczuk said, adding that Zamenhof was promoting Białystok because everyone who has ever heard of Esperanto, also learnt that its creator was born in that very city.

“Zamenhof is an example of a man who nurtured understanding, spoke of universal values, wanted the language not to pose a communication barrier,” Deputy Białystok Mayor Przemysław Tuchliński told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) who also laid a flower in the name of the city authorities.

“Zamenhof was a great pacifist, a man who strived for all people to have equal rights,” the former head of the Białystok Esperanto Speakers Association Elżbieta Karczewska told the PAP, stressing that the linguist’s endeavours needed to be all the more remembered today. The only way to make people equal was a common language, she felt.

The ceremony carried out under the watchful eye of Zamenhof’s statue was concluded with a bugle interpretation of Nino Rosso and Willy Brezza’s “Il Silenzio”.

Ludwik Zamenhof was born on December 15, 1859, in the multicultural and multilingual Białystok, where he also spent his childhood. It is then that he decided to create a universal, international language. He published an Esperanto handbook under his pen name dr Esperanto, meaning, the “hopeful one”.

Białystok continues to be an important point on the Esperanto speaker’s maps. The Ludwik Zamenhof Centres continues to operate in Białystok ever since 2009, teaching and demonstrating the region’s cultural, national and religious diversity. The centre runs an Esperanto library “Esperanto-Libro” boasting over 3,000 books and journals in the language. Today, several thousand people speak Esperanto worldwide.