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Władysław Bartoszewski was one of the leading supporters of German–Polish relations in the years after 1945, even though he had every reason to hate the Germans. Following the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany, he joined the Polish resistance movement and helped Jews escape persecution. As a result, he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. He miraculously survived only to be imprisoned and harassed by the Communists many times after the war.

As a key figure in the Catholic opposition of the 1980s, he was forced into exile and taught for many years at West German universities. He also became a close friend of our former trustee Hans Meier, who was the Bavarian Kultusminister (minister of culture) at the time.

Following the fall of Communism in Poland, he served twice as his country’s foreign minister and was most recently the Polish government’s cultural attaché for German–Polish relations. He had been one of our Foundation’s partners since the 1980s, visited the Robert Bosch House many times, held a Foundation lecture, and provided constant support to our German–Polish initiatives. The Foundation helped him, for instance, to write his memoirs and promoted their translation and publication under the title Und reiß uns den Haß aus der Seele – die schwierige Annäherung von Polen und Deutschen (And tear the hate from the soul – the difficult reconciliation between Poles and Germans). In this era of strong German–Polish collaboration within Europe, this book illustrates how fraught the relationship between the two countries was until two decades ago in the aftermath of war as well as crimes of occupation and forced displacement. Bartoszewski played a key role in consigning all this to history. His tireless dedication did not just win him friends, as his views and statements were always uncompromising and he never shied away from an argument. His phenomenal energy and level of activity often left people speechless. He would often say, "I am still alive and that serves my enemies right." It is a great shame that he could not savor his victory even longer. We have lost a dear friend and a wise counselor who we will always remember with respect and the utmost gratitude.