Polish PM under fire over Holocaust

Polish PM under fire over Holocaust
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised Poland’s premier Mateusz Morawiecki for saying Jews were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
He called Morawiecki’s comments at the Munich Security Conference “outrageous”, saying they showed “an inability to understand history”.
Poland’s recent law making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or state of complicity in Nazi crimes has angered Israel and Jewish rights groups.
In 1968, a power struggle within the Polish communist party between supporters of reforms in liberalising Czechoslovakia and those against led to what the authorities called an “anti-Zionist” campaign, named after Israel’s Six-Day War with Soviet-orientated Egypt in 1967. The campaign amounted to a purge of Poland’s remaining Jewish community.
Morawiecki told the press: “It’s extremely important to first understand that, of course, it’s not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators – as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian…. not only German perpetrators.”
Poland was one of the few governments in occupied Europe that did not collaborate with the occupying German forces.
Polish embassies, Morawiecki said, were requested on 260 instances to respond to references to “Polish death camps”, a term which the Poles find offensive.
The controversial legislation states “whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich… shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years”.
There is a get-out clause that states it “is not committing a crime if he or she commits such an act as part of artistic or scientific activities”.
Polish historian Jan Gross called the law a means to reframe history, journalism and teaching terms of reference. “The law actually doesn’t refer to Polish extermination camps at all and its wording is vague,” Gross said. “It is thus legally ambiguous and probably designed to be so, to scare, but with very little legal power of enforcement.”
Approximately 3 million of Poland’s 3.2 million pre-Second World War Jewish population was killed during the German occupation.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda defended the law this month claiming that it was needed to defend the national reputation.
“Taking the need to protect Poland’s and the Polish people’s good name into account … I made the decision to sign this amendment to the bill into law”, Duda said, according to the state-run Russian Tass news agency.Clearance of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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