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Icelandic President Visits Poland for WWII Commemoration

 In News, Politics, Society

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid attended a ceremony in Poland yesterday marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Prominent politicians from around the world, including US Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were present at the ceremony. RÚV reported first.

Invaded by both Germany and Russia, Poland suffered some of the heaviest losses of World War II. The war cost some 6 million Polish lives, more than half of them Jews. “The Second World War will always be counted among the most appalling occurrences in human history. It is important, and a matter of course, to commemorate now the beginning of that conflict, on 1 September 1939,” Guðni remarked in a statement released for the occasion. “May this memorial ceremony serve to promote solidarity and sympathy within our societies, and among the nations of the world. Peace and welfare are founded on diversity and freedom, tolerance and open minds.”

Poles in Iceland

Polish nationals account for over 40% of immigrants in Iceland, and they received a mention in Guðni’s statement. “On behalf of my wife Eliza and myself, I thank the people of Poland for their hospitality and goodwill. By the same token I express warm regards to the Poles who have come to Iceland and made their contribution to our society, and I wish them all good fortune.”

Trump backed out

US President Donald Trump had been scheduled to attend the commemoration, but cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian, which is approaching the east coast of the United States. Vice President Pence, who attended in his place, is expected on an official visit to Iceland this Wednesday.

Guðni’s statement can be read in English here.

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