The Polish government is fighting a fierce social-media battle in the firestorm surrounding the country’s new law criminalizing accusations that the Polish nation was complicit in the Holocaust.
The posts emphasize the Poles’ own suffering at the hands of the Nazis and praise the bravery of Poles who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors.
Bearing the hashtags “TestimonyOfTruth” and #GermanDeathCamps, a YouTube video spotlights 91-year-old Lucyna Adamkiewicz, a partisan in Poland’s underground Home Army during World War II whom the Nazis imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“The way in which we were treated is indescribable. I could not believe when I heard that these were ‘Polish death camps.’ Those camps were German camps,” Adamkiewicz says sadly as somber piano music plays in the background. “If I could fight for the truth, I would use my cane, because I have to walk with my cane now.”
The video, which drew more than 1.4 million views in less than three days, sits atop the Twitter account of the Polish Prime Minister’s Office and is being run as sponsored content on Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Another paid ad features a photo of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the quote, “Death camps where millions of Jews were murdered were not Polish. This truth deserves protection — as it is a part of the historical part of the truth of the Holocaust.” On Morawiecki’s Twitter account, the posts have been even more forthright.
Auschwitz is the most bitter lesson on how evil ideologies can lead to hell on earth. Jews, Poles, and all victims should be guardians of the memory of all who were murdered by German Nazis. Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase.— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) January 27, 2018
A gang of professional thugs enters a two-family house.They kill the first family almost entirely.They kill the parents of the second, torturing the kids.They loot and raze the house. Could one, in good conscience, say that the second family is guilty for the murder of the first?— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) January 28, 2018
The Poland.pl Facebook page has closely focused on the topic for over a week. A video link to an “information page” about #GermanDeathCamps was posted when the controversy broke. The account has also promoted the hashtag campaign #PolishRighteous and featured a daily post profiling a Pole who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
One new Twitter account, “United Against Defamation,” features a photo of intertwined Polish and Israeli flags. The account has retweeted articles supporting Poland and the law in Israeli and Jewish publications, as well as in statements by Polish officials.
Poles risked their own lives to rescue Jews from the Nazis. Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Authority has recognized 6,700 Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Poles represent the biggest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust #UnitedAgainstDefamation pic.twitter.com/S2ImSc175p— United Against Defamation (@UADefamation) February 6, 2018
The account accused Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party who aims to be Israel’s next prime minister, of engaging in his own historical revisionism. “There were Polish death camps,” Lapid tweeted after the bill was passed in Poland’s lower house of parliament, a view widely criticized, including by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial.