President Duda awarded Virtus and Fraternitas medals to rescuers of Poles
President Andrzej Duda awarded on Wednesday in Warsaw the first Virtus et Fraternitas (Virtue and Brotherhood) medals honouring 20th-century rescuers of Poles from death and oppression. Among the 14 laureates there are Poles and Jews from the Bernese Group, as well as Ukrainians, Kazakh and Hungarian.
The president, who in awarded the distinctions to the laureates and their descendants in Teatr Polski in Warsaw, underscored that Virtus et Fraternitas medals are "exceptional decorations honouring virtue, brotherhood, spirit, and above all, uncommonly humane stance, uncommon humanism displayed in very difficult times". He added that the awards are a symbol of remembrance and gratitude of the Polish state.
"I would like to stress one thing in particular, that these distinctions are from our community," he underscored. "Through these distinctions, our community has accepted you as its members. You are our brothers and sisters. I would you to keep this in your hearts as an expression of our eternal gratitude, that we treat you as sisters and brothers of our community, our nation," President Duda added.
Tassbai Abdikarmov took the floor on behalf of the laureates. When he was 16, the Kazakhstani national helped a Polish family deported after the WWII into the Soviet Union. He said: "Let this event serve as an example to other nations," said Abdikarmov.
During the ceremony, illuminated among others by a performance of Polish jazz pianist Włodek Pawlik, letters written by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński were read out. Both underscored the courage and sacrifice of those who helped the victims of 20th-century terror.