Polish Delegation to Meet With Israeli Officials on Contentious Holocaust Law

Meetings are intended to reduce tensions over the new legislation, which bans mentioning the Polish nation’s involvement in the Holocaust and goes into effect on Thursday

Anna Stupnicka-Bando, 89, a Polish woman recognized by Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the Holocaust, speaks to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw, February 26, 2018.
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP

An official delegation sent by the Polish government will meet with representatives from the Foreign Ministry and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center on Thursday concerning the new Polish Holocaust law. The legislation bars any mention of the Polish nation’s involvement in Nazi crimes during World War II. The Polish delegation includes historians and Polish Foreign Ministry representatives.

The dialogue is intended to reduce recent tensions over the law between the two countries. The legislation, which was approved last month by the parliament and signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda, takes effect on Thursday.

Polish prosecutors have begun examining cases in which Polish residents were accused of war crimes. The new law imposes a prison term of up to three years for those who claim the Polish state or nation was involved in the Holocaust, but Poland’s justice minister has said that the law will not be enforced until a court rules on its constitutionality. This decision to postpone enforcement paved the way for Thursday’s meetings in Jerusalem. They are an attempt to forge a compromise and alter the law in the wake of the extremely harsh criticism from Israel and elsewhere around the world.

Yad Vashem has recognized 7,600 Poles as Righteous Among the Nations for saving the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. The Polish Institute of National Remembrance, the official government body in charge of researching Nazi crimes in Poland, estimates a few hundred Poles sacrificed their own lives to save Jews during the war.