December 7th 1970 Warsaw
Together with the International Auschwitz Committee, we are today reminding you of an extraordinary event, a gesture made 50 years ago, that started the process of German-Polish reconciliation after the nightmare of World War II. December 7th 1970 is a key date for Polish-German relations - the day on which the then Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Willy Brandt, knelt at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes during his visit to Warsaw, which was the first official visit of the Chancellor of West Germany to post-war Poland. This symbolic gesture was interpreted as a public confession of guilt and recognition of the moral responsibility of the Germans towards the murdered Jews, Poles and representatives of other nations. Initially not fully understood and appreciated, it became the cornerstone of Willy Brandt's new Eastern opening policy, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971. In 1977, during a national church meeting of the protestant church in Berlin, Willy Brandt bought the first symbolic brick for the International Youth Meeting Centre, while visiting the stand of Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.
In reference to these events, it was on December 7th 1986 that the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim was officially opened. Today we are therefore celebrating our 34th birthday. Sto lat!