WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The presidents of Poland and Israel on Tuesday joined Holocaust survivors for the formal opening of a multimedia museum that tells the 1,000-year history of Jewish life in Poland.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, on his first foreign trip as president, and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski attended the open-air ceremony at the neighboring monument that honors fighters of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Speaking in Hebrew, Rivlin said he came as the 10th president of Israel and a son of builders of the State of Israel.
"When you are a Jew, even if you were not born in Poland, the very name 'Poland' stirs up trembling and longing in your heart," Rivlin said.
"This country has become a place of creating the spirit of the Jewish nation and - alas! - also the largest Jewish cemetery. Here, the Jewish town (shtetl) was born and here it was also dying. It was dying, locked in ghettos but never ceasing to fight until it was murdered by German Nazis."
Komorowski said he believes the museum will help remove untruths and distortions in the way that Poles and Jews see each other, and thus contribute to building new relations between the two nations whose life and cultures were intertwined for centuries.
The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews was built at what was the center of the Warsaw Ghetto. It uses documents, murals, touch screens and building reconstructions to show the richness of Poland's Jewish culture, which was wiped out in the Holocaust.
First plans for the museum were made in 1995, under Poland's young democracy that made it possible to discuss and remember events that were taboo under decades of communism following World War II.
A striking modern glass-and-concrete form, it was financed from private donations and from the Warsaw budget.