Polish Nationalists Call to Investigate Israeli President Rivlin Over Holocaust Remarks

The National Movement says it believes President Reuven Rivlin might have violated legislation that criminalizes blaming the Polish nation for the crimes of Nazi Germany

Poland's President Andrzej Duda and Israel's President Reuven Rivlin walk in the March of the Living, in Oswiecim, Poland, on Thursday, April 12, 2018
Czarek Sokolowski/AP

A Polish nationalist group asked prosecutors on Tuesday to investigate whether the Israeli president broke a new Holocaust speech law during a visit to Poland last week.

The National Movement says it believes President Reuven Rivlin might have violated legislation that criminalizes blaming the Polish nation for the crimes of Nazi Germany.

At issue in the group's complaint are comments in which Rivlin reportedly told Polish President Andrzej Duda that Poland allowed the implementation of Germany's genocide, National Movement Vice President Krzysztof Bosak said.

The alleged comments during commemorations at Auschwitz last Thursday were carried by an Israeli newspaper and were not part of Rivlin's public remarks.

Bosak said it would be unacceptable if Rivlin asserted that Poland bears any responsibility for the Holocaust. While the National Movement understands that diplomatic immunity protects the Israeli president from prosecution, it wants the nature of the president's remarks to be clarified, he said.

"We are interested in the truth of what he said," Bosak said. "It is important for us."

Bosak acknowledged his group was testing the law, which is not being enforced in practice after sparking a dispute with Israel.

The law, which formally took effect in March, criminalizes blaming Poland for crimes committed by Nazi German forces during their wartime occupation. The Polish government says its aim is to prevent Poland from unfairly being blamed for crimes that Germany committed on occupied Polish soil.

Israel, however, fears the true intent is to whitewash Polish crimes by repressing discussion about those Poles who helped the Germans kill Jews during the wartime occupation.