In Warsaw, Trump Is First U.S. President in Decades Not to Visit Ghetto Uprising Monument

Instead, Trump will visit the Warsaw Uprising Monument, commemorating resistance fighters from the general Polish public - a move local Jewish leaders call an insult

U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with veteran after delivering a speech in Krasinski Square in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with veteran after delivering a speech in Krasinski Square in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) Petr David Josek/AP

Polish Jewish leaders criticized U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday for not including a stop at a monument for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the itinerary of his two-day visit to Poland.

The rebuke by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the president of Jewish Community of Warsaw, Anna Chipczynska, and Leslaw Piszewski, the president of Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, came in a joint statement. In it, the undersigned called the absence of a presidential visit to the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto a “slight.”

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According to the statement’s authors, “ever since the fall of Communism in 1989, all U.S. presidents and vice presidents visiting Warsaw had made a point of visiting” that site,  representing Americans “who had played such a central role in bringing down Fascism,” at a “universal commemoration of the victims of the Shoah, and condemnation of its perpetrators.”

The Holocaust is a delicate matter in Poland, which suffered a brutal Nazi occupation during World War II and has long campaigned against suggestions it bore any responsibility for the slaughter of some 6 million European Jews.

Trump landed in the eastern European country on Wednesday ahead of the G20 meeting in Germany later this week. He commemorated the horrors of World War II in Poland during his speech in the Warsaw Uprising Monument on Krasinski Square, but seemed to embrace the Polish right wing narrative according to which the Poles were merely victims of the Nazis and did not play a proactive role in the slaughter of Jews.

Trump touched upon Poland's Jewish victims of World War II, saying that "a vibrant Jewish population, the largest in Europe, was reduced to almost nothing after Nazis systematically murdered Polish Jewish citizens, along with countless others during a brutal occupation."

The monument where Trump spoke celebrates the acts of resistance fighters from the general population of Poland, who launched a bloody rebellion against the Germans in 1944. However, the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, situated approximately a mile east of Krasinski Square, specifically commemorates Jewish partisans who rose up against the Germans in a doomed uprising in 1943.

The visits by U.S. presidents to the monument for the Jewish rebellion were gestures that to Polish Jews “meant recognition, solidarity and hope,” the three Jewish leaders wrote.

“We deeply regret that President Donald Trump, though speaking in public barely a mile away from the monument, chose to break with that laudable tradition, alongside so many other ones. We trust that this slight does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the American people,” they added.

In contrast to her father, Ivanka Trump, who is a modern Orthodox Jew, did pay a visit to the monument for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

"It was a privilege to be able to pay my respects and remember with gratitude those who fought with such tenacity against all odds," the younger Trump wrote on Instagram.

Reuters contributed to this report.