Poland Removes Jail Penalties for Statements on Polish Participation in the Holocaust But Retains as Civil Crime


Davies, Christian (June 27, 2018). Poland makes partial U-turn on Holocaust law after Israel row: Threat of jail removed for those who attribute crimes of Nazi Germany to Poles. Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/27/poland-partial-u-turn-controversial-holocaust-law

Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has signed a legal amendment to decriminalise the false attribution to Poland and Poles of crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, signalling a partial retreat on contentious legislation enacted this year…Anyone who “publicly and against the facts” accuses the Polish state or nation of being “responsible or complicit in” Nazi crimes will be guilty of a civil rather than a criminal offence.[1]

 

INTERPRETATIONS

  • Shmuli, Itzik, Member of the Israeli Knesset (Zionist Union) (June 14, 2018). Despite Netanyahu, Knesset to vote on Armenian Genocide motion. California Courier.

“The day on which the prime minister of the state of the Jewish people agrees to be a collaborator with the denial of the genocide of another people, who were slaughtered in concentration camps and on death marches, this is a black day and a deep moral stain on all of us. What would we have said if the world had refused to recognize the Holocaust because of diplomatic unpleasantness and economic interests? If we become partners in the denial of the tragedies in history we will never succeed in preventing those that may come in the future. I call on the government to set aside political considerations and do the necessary historic justice.”

Six months after its approval in parliament, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Wednesday his intention to backtrack the controversial Holocaust law, which criminalized anybody accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes… His office stated that the government feels the law did not achieve its goal of “defending the good name of Poland”: Morawiecki wants the law amended, so as not to impose criminal responsibility and a prison sentence on violators…The prime minister’s office also stated that the Institute of National Remembrance would continue to fight for the “historic truth” using the “civilian” tools at its disposal.

Speaking on a news show on Israel’s most distinguished radio station, Reshet Bet, Yehuda Bauer, who is considered the world’s preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, spoke up impassionedly and angrily that by signing a joint agreement with Poland, Israel had no less than “betrayed” the Holocaust.  He said that Israel had now legitimized the Polish law which retains civil charges against anyone speaking up about Poles’ participation in the Holocaust. “Were they born on the moon?”, Bauer asked furiously.  “It’s Poles.”

Bauer emphasized the Poland would still impose civil law on scholars who spoke truthfully about Polish murders of Jews.  Haaretz quoted Bauer as saying, “They will demand money from them, they will impoverish them, they will keep funding from them.  And we are legitimizing [this]… They will say:”What do you want, the Israelis agreed to this, why are you making noise?”