Jewish leaders in Poland expressed sadness on Thursday over the fact that President Donald Trump didn’t visit an important Jewish memorial site in Warsaw ― reportedly breaking with a tradition upheld by American presidents for decades.
The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw commemorates a doomed uprising led by Jews against the Nazis in 1943. Since the fall of communism in 1989, every U.S. president and vice president visiting Warsaw has stopped at this memorial, according to the New York Times.
On Thursday, Trump delivered a speech at Krasinski Square, the site of a monument symbolizing the resistance led by the general Polish population in 1944. The Jewish memorial is located about one mile away, close to a museum dedicated to the history of Polish Jews.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor, visited the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument in her father’s place. The first daughter, who is Jewish, laid a wreath and recited a prayer, called the Kaddish, before visiting the museum.
In a statement given to White House reporters, Ivanka described the visit as “a deeply moving experience.”
Poland’s chief rabbi Michael Schudrich accompanied Ivanka during her visit.
Schudrich told the AFP that Ivanka’s visit was “very, very important… not only because she’s a Jew, because her grandparents-in-law are survivors of the Holocaust, but also as a human being it’s important.”
“But it’s sad because her father President Trump is the first US president in 25 years not to visit the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument,” he said.
A spokesperson for the POLIN Jewish museum told the AFP that museum officials heard about Ivanka’s visit on short notice.
On Wednesday, one day before Trump’s visit to Krasinski Square, Jewish leading figures in Poland’s Jewish community expressed their disapproval after finding out the president had no plans to visit the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument.
Schudrich, along with Anna Chipczynska, Jewish Community of Warsaw president, and Leslaw Piszewski, president of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland said in a joint statement that past presidential visits to the Jewish memorial were very important to Poland’s Jewish community.
“For the Jews of Poland, rebuilding in a democratic Poland their communal life, after the horror of the Shoah and the devastation of Communism, this gesture meant recognition, solidarity and hope. We deeply regret that President Donald Trump, though speaking in public barely a mile away from the Monument, chose to break with that laudable tradition. We trust that this slight does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the American people.”