Medal of honor for Prof. Henryk Skarżyński

During the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, celebrated for several days, Prof. Henryk Skarżyński was awarded the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” Medal of Honor, awarded by the Association of Jewish Veterans and Victims of World War II and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland.

In his laudation, Marian Kalwary, a ghetto survivor, introduced the awardee’s profile. – Prof. Henryk Skarżyński is one of the world’s most prominent otolaryngologists. In 1996 he established the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, and later the World Hearing Center, where since 2003, the largest number of hearing-improving surgeries in the world have been performed. He has received over 350 awards and honors from national and international scientific, academic and medical communities. Some of Professor Skarżyński’s patients have discovered their musical talents after regaining hearing. And on this basis, the Professor organizes the annual International Music Festival for Children, Youth and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beast of Cochlea”, he said.

His empathetic attitude towards Jewish communities in Poland should also be noted. The Professor participates in most publicly celebrated Jewish holidays and anniversaries and even in ceremonies for awarding “Righteous Among the Nations” medals. He also organizes hearing tests in the senior Jewish community and refers to further therapy when necessary. He never refuses help. And it was this cordiality, caring and the Professor’s interest in our community that prompted us to honor him with the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” Medal of Honor. – Marian Kalwary emphasized.

As written in the justification, the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” medal of  honor was awarded to Prof. Henryk Skarżyński in recognition of his defence of the dignity of every human being and his fight against manifestations of xenophobia, nationalism and anti-Semitism. The medal award ceremony took place on May 15, 2023, at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews Polin.

We are in an extraordinary place among extraordinary people. I am an ordinary doctor, and this is not false modesty. I did and do only what I can do best. And indeed, I do it with passion. If this passion of mine and the passion of my team has been noticed, then thank you very much. We welcome the success of every patient, especially those who, as mentioned here, are condemned to oblivion and can be artists. Professionally and not only. I am glad that we met friends on our way. I will mention Mark Edelman, whom I met 30 years ago. At that time, he represented the Social Solidarity Foundation. He and Professor Maria Góralówna asked me if they could do something for the children. I said, firstly, to support a program to detect hearing defects in newborns, and secondly, to break some taboos so that those children who can hear with hearing aids receive them. Mark’s involvement caused that a group of 10,000 children who did not need a surgical intervention received proper hearing support and were able to go to schools. We helped then very different children, quite ordinary ones, Prof. Henryk Skarżyński said, receiving the award.

This year, a new edition of the medal was inaugurated, which differs from the previous one in a different graphic concept, a new structural form and size.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out on April 19, 1943, and lasted until May 16, 1943. It was the first urban uprising in occupied Europe, a symbolic act given the slim chances of success. In an uneven battle that lasted almost a month, the poorly armed fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the Jewish Military Union (ZZW) resisted the troops of the SS, Wehrmacht, Security Police and auxiliary formations. During this time, the Germans razed the ghetto to the ground, methodically burning house after house.