A plaque commemorating Michał Lande was unveiled today on the façade of John’s Tenement House at Warsaw’s Krakowskie Przedmieście 89 address, a Polish teenager of Jewish origin who participated in a patriotic demonstration against the Tsarist Russian occupiers held on 8 April 1861, which cost him his life.
“It is in the presence of his family members that I pay homage to Michał Lande which I also offer to all Jews who had paid the ultimate price for our beloved common homeland, who set an example for future generations and stand as symbols of reconciliation between the two nations,” stated deputy minister of culture Jarosław Sellin at the ceremony.
In the opinion of the deputy head of the ministry of culture, the gesture of the seventeen-year-old, who took up a crucifix from a fallen monk and continued walking with it until he was himself wounded by a Cossack horseman, should be considered a symbol of patriotism expressed by the Jews and of their fraternity and solidarity with the Poles.
On 8 April 1861, Castle Square was the scene of a great patriotic demonstration of Warsaw’s Polish and Jewish population. Crushed violently by the Russians, it cost many defenceless people their lives and went down in history as an act of martyrdom and kinship of the two nations in the face of the Tsarist annexation and subjugation of their homeland. The 17-year-old student of a middle school and the Warsaw Rabbinic Seminary was shot as he walked at the forefront of the march carrying a cross dropped by a monk who fell under rifle butts. The wounded youth was carried to a pharmacy in the nearby John’s Tenement House. He died that night in the St. Roch Hospital. Under police surveillance, the funeral took place at Warsaw’s Okopowa Jewish Cemetery.
The demonstration of the 8th of April 1861 was a watershed event which opened the way to the January Uprising. Cyprian Kamil Norwid immortalised this display of Polish and Jewish unity in his poem entitled „Żydowie polscy” (Polish Jews).
The commemorative plaque designed by architect and sculptor Tomasz Lec was funded by the ministry of culture and national heritage.
The project to commemorate the demonstration of 8 April 1861 and the ultimate sacrifice of Polish and Jewish patriots in the struggle for free Poland was initiated by Michał Lande Civic Committee composed of: secretary of state in the ministry of culture and national heritage Jarosław Sellin, former Polish ambassador to Yugoslavia, Croatia, Italy and Bosnia Herzegovina Jerzy Chmielewski, chief rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, director of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute Prof. Dr. hab. Paweł Śpiewak, rector of St. Albert and St. Andrew Church in Warsaw, chaplain for creative circles and vice-chairman of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews Fr. Grzegorz Michalczyk, vice-president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw Anna Chipczyńska, director of the Warsaw Museum Ewa Nekanda-Trepka and Jarosław Lindenberg, a member of the Michał Lande family.