It seems that after a very long time we are at last able to open this new Jewish Community Centre here in Krakow. For me it is very moving indeed to be able to join the Jewish community, here in Krakow, who I know have suffered so much in the past.
To be able to join you today on the steps of this new community centre, which so many people have contributed to with really remarkable generosity, makes me very proud indeed as I am afraid I rather interfered six years ago!
When I visited then I had the great pleasure of meeting members of the Jewish community in a rather wonderful old café here in Krakow. I am very sad we haven’t got time to visit the café on this occasion so that my wife can see, as it is rather special. But as a result of listening to the stories that the elderly members of the Jewish community were telling me, I discovered that there was a great lack of somewhere where the community could concentrate, could meet, and develop their own culture, have their own festivals, and celebrate all the things that matter to the Jewish community.
So I am afraid that when I got home I called Dame Vivian Duffield and she immediately put me in touch with World Jewish Relief. And I hadn’t come across World Jewish Relief until that point.
But all I can tell you, ladies and gentlemen, is that I have been so impressed by the work carried out by that organisation, not just for the Jewish community but many other people who are suffering or in difficulty all over the world.
So today is a marvellous opportunity to salute the work carried out by World Jewish Relief. But also if I may say so, the incredible generosity of Mr and Mrs Leo Noe and Mr and Mrs Cyril Dennis who have really put so much into creating this wonderful centre because without them and without their response to my interference in all of this we would never have a building such as this.
So for my wife and myself, going round the building just now and seeing the uses to which it has been put, has really warmed our hearts, I can assure you. For me it was a particular pleasure to meet Ryszard Orowski, who I met six years ago, who had suffered so much over 60 years ago.
If I may say so, to stand here between the Tempel and a group of synagogues in the heart of a traditional Jewish Community is literally to touch history.
Your community is known for stories, some of which have borne witness to the darkest clouds in human history, but today the history of your community opens a new and vibrant chapter.
So this building provides a much need place to respect the past while wholeheartedly embracing the future. We can only hope, ladies and gentlemen, that the exemplary values of one generation will pass to another. And the energy, dynamism and achievements of the children that we have met today will be a resource of pride and inspiration to parents and grandparents alike.
So ladies and gentlemen, it gives me enormous pride and moves me deeply to be able to stand here today and unveil these plaques and to congratulate Nigel Layton on all the remarkable work he has done to make this happen. Nothing possibly could give my wife and I greater pleasure and pride than to declare the new Jewish Community Centre open.