Remembering the Past – Sharing the Future

Remembering the Past – Sharing the Future

  • Issue 65

Benjamin Drenger

Each year, in March, a memorial service is held in Krakow in memory of the victims of the city ghetto during World War II. The ceremony continues with a mass march attended by hundreds of Jews and Poles, from the square of the empty chairs in the ghetto, to the Plaszow labor camp memorial.

The Israel Society of Anaesthesiologists, in cooperation with the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Medicine in Jerusalem, the Israeli-Polish Mental Health Association, the Faculties of Medicine in Krakow and in Warsaw, and under the auspices of the Polish Society of Anaesthesiology, decided to take advantage of this event to organize a binational scientific meeting. The title of the meeting expresses its purpose: “Remembering the Past – Sharing the Future”. The psychiatrists held a parallel meeting under the title: “Seventy years after the Nuremberg Trials: Treatment of Genocide Survivors and the Future of Medical Research”.

The entire trip was extraordinarily exciting, including the Warsaw Jewish ghetto tour and in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and of course, the memorial ceremony and the march in Krakow. The lectures, which dealt with the memory of the past, were also very touching and did not leave many dry eyes in the audience. For me, as a son of Holocaust survivors, who spared me the painful memories, this was the first time I had the opportunity to tell the tragic story of my family.

Two meetings were held, one in Warsaw and one in Krakow. On March 9, 2016, a scientific meeting was held at the Medical School in Warsaw, with lectures, both scientific and memorial. Dr. Malgorzata Mikaszewska-Sokolewicz and Prof. Benjamin Drenger organized the meeting. Here are some of the program topics:

Gabriel M. Gurman: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler: The Polish nurse who saved thousands of Jewish children.

Haran Fisher: The Polish cardiologist Dr. Merek Edelman: From Warsaw Ghetto uprising to the Polish Parliament.

Elżbieta Nowacka: Anaesthesia for fetoscopic surgery.

Marcin Rawicz: Palliative care in children in Poland.

Benjamin Drenger: Failure to Resume Cardiac Medications Postoperatively Negatively Impacts Patient Outcome.

The second meeting took place in Krakow on March 11, 2016, and was attended by Polish and Israeli anaesthesiologists and psychiatrists. Prof. Benjamin Drenger together with Prof. Janusz Andres and Prof. Haim Knobler organized the meeting. This conference carried a large number of lectures, of which I will mention a few:

Batia Brutin: The holocaust in visual arts: A journey of seven decades.

Benjamin Drenger: From holocaust to revival: Surviving the holocaust in Krakow during WW II.

Janusz Andres: Possible role of cognitive aids in the management of critical situations in the operating room.

Gabriel M. Gurman: Practical ethical rules of behaviour in a Critical Care Unit.

Rafał Drwiła: Therapeutic options in end-stage and acute cardiac failure.

Haim Knobler: Seven decades from the Nuremberg Doctors’ trials: has the pendulum gone full swing?

In the memorial ceremony for the extermination of the ghetto and the murder of Jews, which took place in Krakow on March 13, 2016, representatives of the Polish government, of the Israeli government, and of the Jewish community members laid wreaths. Almost 1,000 participants, mostly Polish civilians and Israeli delegates, attended the march itself. The march ended at the foot of the monument to the victims of the Plaszow camp and a prayer was said in memory of those who have not survived.

In conclusion, this was a different and unusual meeting, marking the complexity of past memories with the desire to develop stronger communication and cooperation between the members of the two National Societies.