On Friday, the representatives of state institutions, the Catholic Church and the Jewish community, took part in observances marking the death anniversary of Michał Landy, a participant in a patriotic demonstration of 1861. Speeches were delivered and prayers were said over his grave in the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw.

Michał Landy – a seventeen-year-old Jewish boy – was fatally wounded during anti-Russian protests of Warsaw inhabitants in 1861. His story is often recalled as an example of Polish Jews' patriotism.

"Michał Landy, a student of the School of Rabbis, was fatally wounded when carrying a cross that was dropped by a fallen monk. The cross is the symbol of the Christian religion, but at that time there was no division into the better and the worse, into Christians and Jews. At that time everyone fought for their rights and freedom," said Lesław Piszewski, the president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland.


Jarosław Sellin, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, wrote a special letter for Michał Landy's death anniversary: "The stage for these developments was set by the reality of growing social resistance and cases of the occupier's violence against people. More and more frequent patriotic actions performed by Jews as well as gestures of brotherhood and solidarity emerged from the background, including a decision to close Warsaw synagogues together with Catholic churches after the demonstration of 27 February 1861, the participation of rabbis Majzels and Kramsztyk in the funeral service of the fallen during the demonstration, or earlier actions aimed at rapprochement of the two nations, such as translating the anthem Boże coś Polskę into Yiddish. The gesture made by a seventeen-year-old Jew, who took up the cross from the hands of a fallen monk, became a symbol of that time."

Jarosław Lindenberg, deputy director for diplomatic protocol at the Foreign Ministry and a relative of Michał Landy, stressed that other members of the Landy family had been involved in general pro-Polish activities as well, including those who had converted to Christianity. Michał's brother Szoel organised anti-Tsarist demonstrations, while his other brother Aleksander fought in the January Uprising. Teresa Landy, as a nun called Zofia, devoted many years of her life to the inmates of the Institution for the Blind in Laski.

"In communist Poland, Michał Landy was not a subject of discussions," said Jarosław Lindenberg. "He was an unwanted hero in two ways. First of all, he was a Jew, and second - he died under the cross."

Michał Landy was buried in plot No. 20, where Warsaw's families of merit, including the Wawelbergs and Orgelbrands, were buried. Groups of tourists visiting the cemetery often stop at his grave.

"Michał Landy, Berek Joselewicz and Marek Edelman are characters from Israeli history books," said Michał Sobelman, an official from the Embassy of Israel in Poland. "I hope that Israeli youth who visit this grave will come here even more often".

Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich and Father Grzegorz Michalczyk, deputy president of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, said psalm 130 at Michał Landy's grave.

Jerzy Chmielewski, who co-organised the Friday’s ceremony, announced that a commemorative plaque devoted to Michał Landy would be placed on one of the buildings in Warsaw's Zamkowy Square by the end of the year.

Krzysztof Bielawski