Polish President Says He Would Never Allow Poles to be ‘Vilified’ Over Holocaust
REUTERS/ Kacper PempelEurope12:28 30.01.2018(updated 12:35 30.01.2018) Get short URL
A new Polish legislation forbids any mention of participation of the Polish nation in crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, particularly the use of phrases like “Polish death camps,” where millions of people, mostly the Jews, were slaughtered by the Nazis.
Polish President Andrzej Duda has stated that he would never allow his country and Polish people in general to be “vilified” though “false accusations” of the alleged involvement in the Holocaust, a claim that has been repeatedly denounced by Warsaw.
Duda has emphasized that there was no institutionalized participation by Poland or its people in the Holocaust, however, admitted that some Poles took “wicked” actions against the Jews.
Duda’s statement apparently came in response to Tel Aviv’s outrage over a Polish bill that would outlaw public statements assigning to “the Polish nation” responsibility for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. The legislation, approved by the Polish parliament’s lower house on January 26, was slammed by the Israeli leadership, accusing authors of the bill of attempting to distort historical truth.
READ MORE: Israel Summons Polish Diplomat Over Holocaust Bill
In response, Israel summoned the Polish envoy to express the country’s “opposition to the wording of the bill,” which has been passed on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Two days later, the prime minister’s office announced that Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari and her staff would discuss the issue with the Polish leadership, including Morawiecki, President Duda, and the parliament’s upper house later this week.
The Polish Institute of National Remembrance called Israel’s interference in the situation around the bill, before it had even become a law, inappropriate. The new legislation does not limit scientific research and the freedom of speech, but tackles deliberate distortion of history, the institute said.
The new Polish legislation, which still needs approval of the upper house and the president to become a law, forbids any mention of participation of the Polish nation in crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, particularly the use of phrases like “Polish death camps,” where millions of people, mostly the Jews, were slaughtered by the Nazis.
The bill prescribes up to three years in prison for attempts to link the Polish people with Nazis’ crimes. The bill also bans denial of the murder of about 100,000 Poles by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during World War II.
Polish officials, including the country’s prime minsiter, Mateusz Morawiecki, have repeatedly requested corrections when media refer to Nazi death camps as Polish, such as Auschwitz.