“Bene Merito” for Piotr M.A. Cywiński
The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was awarded the “Bene Merito” Medal of Honour, which is granted by the Minster of Foreign Affairs to the outstanding individuals in recognition of the activities strengthening the position of Poland on the international scene. Radosław Sikorski presented the Medal in the presence of President Bronisław Komorowski. The ceremony took place at the Belvedere on the occasion of the Day of Foreign Service of the Republic of Poland. “This is an excellent opportunity to highlight the role of citizens and friends of Poland in the shaping of the position and image of our country,” stressed the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site is today a place that belongs to the memory of the entire world. The number of official visits, but above all the increasing number of educational visits organised by the governments of many countries, as well as the magnitude of international cooperation pose a natural demand for the creation of good diplomatic relations round the Museum,” said Piotr Cywiński. “It is unusual on an international scale that a cultural institution maintains regular relations with ambassadors, with the government institutions of so many countries. But it is also very difficult to compare Auschwitz to any other place,” he noted.
Piotr Cywiński has worked for years, in numerous lectures and speeches, in Europe and on other continents, on the dissemination of Polish and European history in the context of the Holocaust and the period around the war and has highlighted the role of the efforts of Polish-Jewish dialogue and all forms of international dialogue. He has also sought international support for the important mission of preserving the Auschwitz Memorial Site for future generations.
Cywiński is also a co-founder of the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, and in 2008 he was the ambassador of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. In 2002-2004 he was a member of the Consultative Environmental Council for Non-governmental Organizations by the National Council of European Integration.
“A while ago my friend who is a diplomat joked that “this Museum has to be manager by one more Polish ambassador, but – for unknown reasons – not directly subordinate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. However, to speak seriously, we must remember that the remains of Auschwitz are not tools of diplomacy and must not be reduced to this role,” emphasised the director of the Museum.
The “Bene Merito” Medal of Honour (Latin for Good Merit of Just Award) has been awarded by the Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2009 to Polish citizens and citizens of foreign countries as an honorary award for activities which strengthen the position of Poland on the international scene. These are mainly granted to deserving individuals recognised in the field of diplomacy and international relations.