EU, German Heads Attend Funeral of Former Polish Foreign Minister

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Funeral mass at St. John’s Arch-Cathedral, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, May 4, 2015 for Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.Credit: AP

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, the former Auschwitz prisoner who helped save Jews from the Holocaust and later became Poland's foreign minister, was a joyful person who inspired deep respect, top European officials said in eulogies Monday at his state funeral in Warsaw.

Bartoszewski, a historian, writer and politician, died April 24 at 93. He was Poland's deputy minister for dialogue with Germany and Israel.

A member of underground World War II resistance, Bartoszewski, a Polish Roman Catholic, helped save Jews and was honored by Israel with the title of the Righteous Among Nations. He was later persecuted under communism for his democratic views and spent almost seven years in prison in the 1950s. Three decades later, he supported the Solidarity freedom movement and then served twice as democratic Poland's foreign minister. He also spent much of his life working for Polish-German reconciliation.

Mozart's Requiem was played during the funeral Mass at Warsaw's Gothic St. John's arch-Cathedral, as soldiers stood guard by Bartoszewski's wooden coffin, which was covered with Poland's white-and-red national flag. European Council president Donald Tusk and German President Joachim Gauck were among those giving eulogies and family members included Bartoszewski's widow, Zofia Bartoszewska, and his son from a previous marriage, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.

"He was 100 percent a decent person and at the same time followed his common sense," said Tusk, Poland's former prime minister, in whose government Bartoszewski was charged with foreign dialogue from 2007-2014.

"He used to say that his biography of an Auschwitz prisoner and a Righteous Among Nations gave him the right to say to (Poland's) partners all that he considered important. And he said it. And he inspired respect," Tusk added.

He also noted that Bartoszewski was a joyful person, saying his office was the "happiest place in the entire prime minister's office building."

Gauck emphasized Bartoszewski's wisdom.

"We have lost a friend, a person worth emulating, a wonderful person," he said.

Bartoszewski was buried with state honors, to the sound of the national anthem and rounds of military salutes, at Warsaw's military Powazki cemetery.

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