Polish prime minister: Restitution to Holocaust victims a ‘victory for Hitler’

May 21, 2019 by JNS
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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday that was Poland to pay restitution for those whose property was stolen in the Holocaust it would violate “international law and would also be a posthumous victory for Hitler;” therefore, “something like this will never happen.”

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Morawiecki made the remarks at a campaign rally in the city of Lodz, which had the second-largest Jewish ghetto during World War II.

Last week, a 65-year-old Israeli man was arrested for spitting at Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski and has since apologized.

In February, Israeli Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz slammed Poland for collaborating with Germany during the Holocaust. Some 380,000 Polish Jews out of 3.3. million—a little more than 10 percent—survived the Holocaust.

“I am the son of Holocaust survivors, we will never forgive and never forget, and there were many Poles who collaborated with the Nazis,” said Katz.

Quoting former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Katz added that “Shamir said that ever Pole sucked anti-Semitism with his mother’s milk. Nobody will tell us how to express our stance and how to honour the dead.”

Katz’s comments sparked outrage as Poland withdrew from a planned summit in Israel.


World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has characterized as “reprehensible” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s reported statement that providing restitution to Polish Jews for property stolen from them during the Holocaust would be tantamount to “Hitler’s posthumous victory.”

“Poland was itself subjected to years of savage Nazi occupation, which makes its failure to appropriately confront the tragedy of millions of its Jewish citizens who were earmarked for annihilation by the Germans especially troubling. Successive Polish governments have steadfastly refused to recognize the material losses of Polish Jewry and have essentially treated their homes and other property as the spoils of war–and individual Poles and Polish institutions have profiteered from these assets for more than seven decades,” Lauder said.

“This unwillingness to acknowledge that the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs are entitled to a modicum of material justice is unfortunate enough,” Lauder continued, “but Prime Minister Morawiecki’s contention–assuming that it was uttered as reported–that providing restitution to Jews for their stolen property would be ‘Hitler’s posthumous victory’ is alarming in the extreme. I hope that Prime Minister Morawiecki was misquoted and can provide an explanation. Otherwise, the sentiments underlying his words can only be characterized as reprehensible and must be thoroughly rejected. As a longtime friend of Poland and the Polish people, I call upon Prime Minister Morawiecki to either deny or retract this deeply offensive and utterly incomprehensible statement.”

Several days earlier, in a front-page op-ed article in the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, President Lauder wrote of his long term admiration for Poland and his many years of engagement in that country, and called upon Polish political and religious leaders to forcefully denounce the latest manifestations of antisemitism, including the citation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by the Bishop of Tarnow in a homily to the faithful. Lauder pledged to continue to actively struggle against the obfuscation of history and to call out those who, out of ignorance or malevolence, blacken Poland’s reputation by suggesting that it was somehow to blame for the crimes committed at Auschwitz and other German death and concentration camps in occupied Poland.

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