Professor Józef Gierowski (Chairman): This discussion has its origins in the article published not long ago by Professor Blonski in Tygodnik Powszechny, which evoked a very lively response both in Poland and abroad. This article dealt with a very important problem of the Holocaust period, a problem which we intend to discuss again today. In advance, I should like to stress that we will not discuss the causes of the Holocaust, nor the situation which prevailed in those years on Polish lands. These basic facts are, we assume, known to everyone here. In 1939, Poland found itself under German occupation and partly too under Soviet occupation. The German zone of occupation was divided into two areas. One of these was directly incorporated into the Reich and was an integral part of that state. The other, the General-Government, was also ruled by the Germans; here they did not share the most important functions of government, and had at their disposal a sufficiently strong army and police force to carry out their policies of terror in relation to both Poles and Jews. These facts will not be part of tonight’s discussion. I refer to them only to remind you of the conditions our society found itself in from the moment the country was conquered by the Germans. Nor will we discuss tonight the question of how the policy of the ‘Final Solution’ of the Jewish problem came to be adopted. This is a matter which is also fairly well known. It is clear that the responsibility for the planning, organizing, and implementation of this ‘final solution’ lies with the Germans, even if there were people who opposed it in Nazi Germany and also even if there were
collaborationist groups of various other nationalities who aided them. These facts do not, however, change the basic character of the process and basically in our deliberations this whole question has a secondary significance. What is most important, what we are most concerned with here is the problem of how to react to murder carried out before our eyes. Can one be indifferent to it, should one not have taken some steps, even if these would not have stopped or limited this genocidal action? In other words, even if our possibilities of action are restricted, is there not some kind of moral, ethical rule which compels us to act on each and every matter and in each and every situation?