„Remember your humanity, the rest is not important” – such motto guided physicist, Noble Prize winner, born in Warsaw in the Jewish family of Józef Rotblat. In Wola, at the corner of Nowolipki and Smocza Streets where he lived before the war, the square of his name was unveiled.
– We restore the memory of Józef Rotblat – a modest Warsaw citizen and a great scientist. He came from a poor and large family and his stubbornness in gaining knowledge deserves even more respect. He worked to earn his living during the day and taught himself in the evenings. A year before the outbreak of the war he defended his doctorate at the University of Warsaw. Studies in Warsaw and the education obtained here opened the way for further development in the West – reminded Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the Mayor of the Capital City of Warsaw.
Józef Rotblat was born in Warsaw on 4th November 1908 to a family of a wealthy Jewish owner of a horse transport company. After the outbreak of World War I, the army requisitioned all the horses and the company went bankrupt. The Rotblat family fell into poverty.
After the war, Józef started working as an electrician. He dreamed, however, to become a physicist. He obtained formal education, among others, at Wolna Wszechnica Polska (Free University in Warsaw). He worked at the Radium Institute and the radiological laboratory of the Warsaw Scientific Society. There he became convinced that the scientist should use his talent for the good of humanity.
He was 36 years old when he was involved in a secret Manhattan project, working on an atomic bomb. At that time, the worst war of the twentieth century was taking place in Poland, which took many of his relatives, among them a beloved wife.
Rotblat contributed to the construction of the most dangerous weapon against humanity and then devoted the majority of his life to fighting it. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
– There is a very high probability that we are in the area of Warsaw, historically, the most densely populated by the Nobel Prize winners. 750 meters from this place, at 11 Nowolipki Street, Maria Skłodowska Curie, a two-time Nobel Prize winner lived in her childhood, the world’s most famous Warszaw citizen. A little further away at 10 Krochmalna Street Isaak Singer, a laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature lived being three years older than our hero. How did it happen that all the residents of Warsaw probably know Skłodowska, many know about Singer and very few know about Józef Rotblat who devoted most of his life to the fight with the atomic bomb, which was co-created by him as a physicist – noted Ewa Malinowska Grupińska, chairwoman of the Warsaw Council.
Józef Rotlbat square is located in a symbolic place. Until 1943 a tenement house stood here, in which the scientist spent his childhood and the years of his youth. This place commemorates a man about whom his relatives say that living long did not manage to grow old because he was so concerned about the fate of the world.