Henrik Ibsens gate 51
Initiating Committee comprised of Mieczysław Majcher – Mayor of Wieluń, Piotr Radowski – Chairman of Wieluń City Council, Ryszard Prozner – President of Association of Wieluń Families, Stanisław Tadeusz Olejnik – President of Wieluń Scientific Society, hereby nominates the City of Wieluń for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize
"Whoever forgets the past is doomed to relive it."
Wieluń ranks among the oldest Polish cities. In the early Middle Ages it constituted an administrative centre and a capital of a castellany, the Duchy of Wieluń and the entire Wieluń province. In the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth it was a royal fortified town of glorious tradition.
Steeped in history and filled with monuments of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, on 1 September 1939 Wieluń suffered the most severe tragedy in its long history. At 4.40 a.m. its inhabitants had been brutally woken up by a Luftwaffe bombing raid. Nazi bombs destroyed the town rendering it the first casualty and victim of World War II, the greatest and bloodiest injustice in the history of mankind. This air raid started about five minutes before the shelling of Westerplatte, which has traditionally been considered the beginning of World War II. The bombing of Wieluń had gone down in history as one of the first terror bombings.
In the small hours of the morning, in the very first hour of the very first day of war, German Luftwaffe turned Wieluń into ruins, virtually razed it to the ground. It was the first World War II attack on such a grand scale aimed at a defenceless town that brought about thousands of deaths and destruction of priceless monuments of national heritage.
It is widely acknowledged that there were no military or industrial targets of any importance in the area.
Nevertheless, German carpet bombing destroyed seventy five per cent of the town centre, killed an estimated twelve hundred civilians, and injured hundreds more. It is noteworthy that among the first targets bombed by the Nazis was All Saints Hospital despite a huge Red Cross sign painted on the roof. Moreover, several valuable monuments of sacral architecture had been either levelled or partially demolished, among them a gothic parish church dating back to XIV century, a synagogue from XIX century and a post-Augustinian cloister complex from XIV century. The invaluable Old Town had been completely destroyed (enclosure 1).
This ruthless barbaric assault had been launched despite the legal and moral norms of the civilized world causing wanton destruction not justified by military necessity. The town of Wieluń along with Warsaw and Westerplatte remain symbols of the tragedy and fight and martyrdom of the Polish nation during the Second World War.
The revolting crime committed in the bombing of a defenceless town had originated air terror on an unprecedented scale. Hundreds of towns around the world fell victim to similar atrocities with tragedies of Warsaw, Rotterdam, Coventry, Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki standing out as the most infamous massacres during the World War II.
The horror and suffering inflicted upon the town of Wieluń on 1 September 1939 and continued throughout the war and Nazi occupation induced its inhabitants to undertake actions for peace and reconciliation between nations. For decades now, a call for peace and forgiveness is being heard from this town that still bears the harrowing scars of war. Wieluń feels a deep need to act as an ambassador of goodwill and reconciliation and to contribute to embracing positive changes.
Actively involved in promoting this message, local initiative groups organize international and domestic conferences and symposia, international youth meetings and ecumenical prayers attended by thousands of worshippers (enclosure 2) that are held under the slogan “Wieluń – the Town of Peace and Reconciliation”. We strongly believe it is vital to drop the burden of the past and work toward unity. At minimum, this requires overlooking past injustices and violence. The guiding idea of such bridge-building meetings between intellectuals, scientists, representatives of self-governments and youth from Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Croatia, Israel, Belarus and Ukraine is shaping proper relations between nations, dispelling prejudice and false stereotypes and promoting European cooperation based on equality, truth and reconciliation.
Presenting this nomination to the Norwegian Nobel Committee we would like to remind the world on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II that it began with a barbaric assault on defenceless Wieluń, with hundreds of other towns all over the world to follow its tragic fate. Let us once again learn from the events of the past and use this lesson as motivation to dedicate ourselves to fostering peace, tolerance and positive aspects of humanity.
The idea of international cooperation, peace and reconciliation is also the driving force behind the initiative of Wojciech Siudmak, an artist of Polish origin and international reputation considered one of the most prominent representatives of fantastic realism and bestowed with the title of Honorary Freeman of the Town of Wieluń. He is the author of an international Universal Peace Project implemented under the auspices of UNESCO and supported by the National Cultural Centre (enclosure 3). One of the founding elements of the project is a sculpture entitled “Eternal Love”, which represents the closeness of two faces: those of a woman and a man, reminiscent of two planets harmoniously suspended in the Cosmos, united in their orbits. The human images of the two planets carry the idea of harmony and understanding, of unique symbiosis, beauty and peace. The bronze sculpture, more than three meters high, standing on a four meter plinth, shall carry a philosophical message to other nations and countries united by the international solidarity to embrace peace, tolerance, reconciliation and universal harmony. The unveiling of the monument has been scheduled for 1 September 2009, the 70th anniversary of World War II commenced by the terror bombing of Wieluń. The sculpture is to be placed in the Old Town that suffered massive destruction during the war and shall constitute the first stage of a long-term, unique Polish peace project.
After the opening of the modern sculpture museum and park in Wieluń and the unveiling of the first exhibit, “Eternal Love”, a copy of the sculpture shall be sent – as in a relay – to one of the Cities for Peace: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Guernica, Rotterdam or Dresden. In turn the chosen city will commission a new work for peace and harmony. After the unveiling of the sculpture, a copy will be sent to the next City of Peace and another automatically to Wieluń. As new sculptures are created, these individual links in form of works of art will unite the cities of peace all over the world and a unique sculpture collection devoted to harmony, tolerance and peace shall be created.
Wieluń has the moral strength and courage to send a message of peace to the world in the most beautiful form – that of art and intellect. This cause shall be advocated by Museum of Remembrance commemorating the tragic history of Wieluń and fostering the idea of the Universal Peace Project “Eternal Love”. The Museum will become a centre for cultural initiatives where scientists and intellectuals will gather annually to reflect on discoveries and scientific achievements with the aim of putting the potential of human thought to good use, finding new ways of cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
A permanent element unifying the consecutive stages of the Project will be the independently developed Educational Programme “Eternal Love”. In various formats and with engagement of the latest teaching methods it will encompass school and preschool education at every level and cover a wide spectrum of subjects - from the arts to culture and science - fostering peaceful coexistence, universal harmony and tolerance.
The commencement of the project implementation shall coincide with the unveiling of the “Eternal Love” monument. Wieluń, the Guernica of Central Europe, is a member of the World Association of Peace Messenger Cities (IAPMC). As the first casualty and victim of World War II it feels predestined to promote the idea of peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and solidarity of nations. In the light of both history and the recent events in Georgia and Palestine as well as Grozny and Sarajevo atrocities, denouncement of the policy of barbaric homicide continues to be of utmost importance. The call for peace from Wieluń is addressed to these countries and cities in Europe, Asia, America and Africa which had experienced or are in danger of destruction and terror.
We are deeply aware of a continuing danger that the lessons of the horror of world wars which were so bitterly learned in the first half of the twentieth century may be forgotten. The memory of the Wieluń tragedy furnishes our local community with a starting point for constructive thinking about the future and promotion of such universal human values as the right to live in peace and freedom, to be treated with dignity and respect and to act in support of peaceful coexistence, reconciliation, tolerance and elimination of violence.
Presenting this nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for Wieluń we strongly believe that it would constitute a tribute to both the first victim and casualty of the Second Word War as well as other Cities for Peace which actively engage in the promotion of peace, reconciliation and solidarity among nations.
Nominators for Nobel Peace Prize for Wieluń
No 1. Illustrated book Wieluń - polska Guernica (Wieluń – Polish Guernica) depicting the devastation of the town after the 1 IX 1939 bombing..
No 2. The most important initiatives carried out with the aim of promoting the idea of peace and reconciliation:
1 September 1969 – national conference devoted to terror bombing of cities during II Word War
1989 – German television channel Sender Freies Berlin produced a Joachim Trenkner documentary “Wieluń – 1 September 1939”. The documentary had been presented to estimated several million of the citizens of former FRG and GDR.
1 September 1989 – Ceremony commemorating 50th Anniversary of World War II outbreak initiated by Sieradz Voivodeship National Council, Wieluń City and Commune National Council and The Society of Friends of Wieluń. For the first time a patriotic religious service was held on the restored foundations of the collegiate church devastated during the infamous terror bombing.
1 September 1995 - I General Assembly of Peace Messenger Cities organized under the auspices of Adam Struzik, Speaker of the Senate, and in cooperation with the Foundation Polish-German Reconciliation.
1 September 1999 – Polish-German conference devoted to legal and moral aspects o terror bombings organized under the auspices of Aleksander Kwaśniewski, then President of the Republic of Poland, in cooperation with the German Historical Institute in Warsaw and The Institute of National Remembrance.
2004 – Karsten Deventer, the editor of Frontal 21, a news magazine from German public TV, produced a documentary on the destruction of Wieluń on 1 September 1939. The documentary had been aired on 27VIII 2004 with the audience of millions.
31 August 2004 – Scientific Session devoted to Wehrmacht and Red Army crimes committed during the 1939 invasion of Poland organized by Wieluń Scientific Society in cooperation with the German Historical Institute and The Institute of National Remembrance.
1 September 2004 – Wieluń was the venue of the Main Ceremony of 65th Anniversary of the Second World War Outbreak. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, then President of Poland, and representatives of the highest national authorities and delegations from neighbouring countries.
13-14 February 2005 – Representatives of Wieluń participated In the 50th anniversary of the destruction of Dresden. Mayor of Wieluń delivered a message of peace to the inhabitants of the city gathered at the ceremony in large numbers.
1 September 2005 – Ceremony of 66th Anniversary of the Second Word War Outbreak under the auspices of Józef Zych, then Marshal of the Sejm of the RP, participated by the youth from Germany, Israel, Ireland and Croatia. Delegations of respective countries delivered their messages of peace.
1 September 2006 - Ceremony of 67th Anniversary of the Second Word War Outbreak under the auspices of Marek Jurek, then Marshal of the Sejm of the RP, participated by delegations from several countries and Wieluń’s German partner towns.
13-16 December 2008 – At the General Assembly of the World Union of Peace Messenger Cities in Sochi, Russia, Wieluń was unanimously accepted as a member of the union.
In order to foster activities promoting Polish-German reconciliation, Wieluń has entered partnership and cooperation agreements with German towns of Osterburg and Adelebsen. Under these agreements local self-governments engage in regular cooperation and holiday exchange of children and youth, firefighters and representatives of various social organizations
No 3. International Peace Project. “Eternal Love” Monument by Wojciech Siudmak.
No 4. a documentary about Wieluń presented at the General Assembly of the World Union of Peace Messenger Cities in Sochi, Russia. (To download on resolution 624x352 and 720x576).
Signatories of Nobel Peace Prize Nomination for the City of Wieluń
- Members of Parliament of the Republic of Poland and members of Self-Governments
- University professors of law, political science, history and philosophy