Proposed Polish law “historical obfuscation”

January 29, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The World Jewish Congress has strongly objected to a proposed new Polish law which would criminalise suggestions that Poland was responsible for Nazis crimes, calling it “an act of historical obfuscation and an attack on democracy.”

During the Holocaust

“Poles are understandably sensitive when Nazi annihilation and concentration camps are referred to as ‘Polish,’ simply due to their location on Polish soil, and they want it to be clear that Germans, not Poles, were responsible for establishing and maintaining these factories of death in which millions of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer, noting that more than 70,000 non-Jewish Poles were also estimated to have perished at Auschwitz alone.

“While it is true that Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, Chełmno, Sobibór and Bełżec should be referred to as ‘Nazi’ or ‘German’ camps in occupied Poland, it is a serious mistake for Poland to seek to criminalize those who do not adhere to this practice,” Singer said. “Having spent decades in the field of education, I deeply believe that this must be changed through a campaign of education, not criminalization. Poland’s new law is especially objectionable as it stifles any real confrontation with the most chilling aspect of the country’s wartime history – the extent to which local Poles were complicit in the destruction of their Jewish neighbors.”

“Outstanding Polish scholars have made very clear in their meticulously researched writings that this was hardly an isolated phenomenon. Declaring that such literature is defamatory and that those who have produced it are engaged in criminal activity amounts to a whitewash of the historical record and must be thoroughly rejected,” Singer said. “The passage of this law can only be seen as an act of historical obfuscation and an attack on democracy.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied. I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister this evening and express to him my strong position against the law.”

Later at the weekly cabinet meeting he added: “Here is the place to point out that we have no tolerance for distorting the truth, historical revisionism or Holocaust denial. Last night I expressed my strong opposition, and I am sure that all ministers would agree, to the law passed in the Polish parliament last Friday regarding the Holocaust that befell our people on Polish soil. The law is due to go through two more stages before it is finally adopted. I expressed our clear position that it must be changed. We will not accept any attempt whatsoever to rewrite history. We will accept no restriction on research into historical truth. On my instruction, our ambassador in Warsaw spoke with the Polish Prime Minister during a Holocaust memorial ceremony at Auschwitz last night and emphasised our positions. During the week, the ambassador and her staff will hold contacts on this issue with the entire Polish leadership, including the Prime Minister, the President and the Senate. The [Deputy] Polish Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry this morning and heard the same exact things.

Every day, and especially on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was yesterday, we remember three things: One, our six million brothers and sisters who were exterminated in the Nazi horrors. Two, the price that all humanity paid for not taking strong and timely action against a murderous ideology. And third, the constant need to continue building the strength of the State of Israel against the fanatical regimes of our time.

As opposed to the past, today we have a state of our own, a strong state with the ability to defend ourselves, by ourselves. In my view, this is the most important lesson of the Holocaust.

President Reuven Rivlin added: “One cannot fake history, one cannot rewrite it, one cannot hide the truth. Every crime, every offence must be condemned, denounced, must be examined and exposed.” This was stated in the Knesset by former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski.

Only 73 years have passed since the gates of hell were flung open. Living Holocaust survivors are disappearing from the world and we still have to fight for the memory of the Holocaust as it was.
The Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the entire world must ensure that the Holocaust is recognized for its horrors and atrocities. Also among the Polish people there were those who aided the Nazis in their crimes. Every crime, every offense, must be condemned. They must be examined and revealed. There were also others among them who fought and were recognised as Righteous Among the Nations.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, more than ever, and above all considerations, we are faced with our duty to remember our brothers and sisters who were murdered.
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, opposes the new legislation proposed  by the Polish parliament. The Centre stated: “It is liable to blur the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust. There is no doubt that the term “Polish death camps” is a historical misrepresentation! The extermination camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland in order to murder the Jewish people within the framework of the “Final Solution.” However, restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people’s direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion. Yad Vashem will continue to support research aimed at exposing the complex truth regarding the attitude of the Polish population towards the Jews during the Holocaust.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke by telephone with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last night [Sunday]. The two agreed that teams from the two countries would open an immediate dialogue in order to try to reach understandings regarding the legislation.

Comments

One Response to “Proposed Polish law “historical obfuscation””
  1. Henry Herzog says:

    Hatred of Jews is in their DNA. Remember their pogroms when the Jews tried to reclaim their properties after the war and they couldn’t smell burning flash from the crematoriums? That’s why I’ve never been interested in going on those marches of the living. I don’t want to contribute even one cent to them.

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