From #GermanDeathCamps to #PolishRighteous: Poland Launches Social Media Campaign to Defend Its Controversial Holocaust Law

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Polish survivors and guests at Auschwitz for the ceremonies marking the 73rd anniversary of the camp's liberation, January 27, 2018.
Polish survivors and guests at Auschwitz for the ceremonies marking the 73rd anniversary of the camp's liberation, January 27, 2018.Credit: Kacper Pempel / Reuters

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.

Today, we are still on the side of truthCredit: Polish Prime Ministers Office

“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.

The 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.

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.

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