Polish Jews Demand Action to Halt Bosnian Genocide
Nazi campaign: Al Gore urged not to allow repeat
The Southeast Missourian
20 April 1993.
By John King, (AP)
WARSAW – Polish Jews recalled the Nazi campaign to exterminate their families and implored Vice President Al Gore on Monday to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust’s horrors against Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) communities in Bosnia.
“The world must do more to stop these outrages,” Gore said with evident emotion after the pleadings.
The dramatic entreaties came as Gore visited Poland to mark the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, a valiant but unsuccessful revolt against the Nazis by Jews they had confined to one area of the city. Execution by the Germans, disease and hunger has reduced the ghetto from 500,000 to 60,000 at the time of the revolt in April 1943. The Nazis killed most of the rebels.
Gore also held the Clinton administration’s first meetings with senior Polish officials, including President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka. He assured them that the United States remains committed to Poland’s democracy and evolving market economy.
“No other country in Eastern or Central Europe has been as bold and as effective in making the transition to a free market economy,” Gore said.
The vice president also met with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was in Warsaw for the uprising anniversary. But all the diplomatic pomp was overshadowed by an early afternoon meeting in a Jewish community center. Polish Jews summoned the pain of the Holocaust, in which six million European Jews were killed by the Nazis, to impress upon Gore their moral case for preventing a present-day repeat in Bosnia.
Much of the violence in the former Yugoslavia has been directed at Bosnian Muslims in what U.S. and allied officials have said is part of a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” directed by Serbs.
Rabbi Pinchas Joskowicz, a concentration camp survivor, pointedly asked Gore what the United States would do to avoid allowing “the Holocaust of 50 years ago to occur again.”
A short time later, a Jewish journalist from Poland told Gore he had been to Sarajevo and witnessed the suffering.
“You are the vice president of the biggest superpower in the world,” said Konstanty Gebbert.
Gebbert said the carnage in the former Yugoslavia had made him think for the first time that the Warsaw ghetto’s Jewish freedom fighters “maybe actually lost” if their uprising failed to put the world on notice to prevent any future Holocaust.
Visibly moved, Gore recounted U.S. efforts to tighten sanctions on the Serbs and said those efforts had intensified in recent days.