Holocaust Museum in Washington Condemns Poland's Draft Holocaust Legislation

The museum expresses 'deep concerns' about the law that would 'chill a free and open dialogue addressing Poland’s history during the Holocaust'

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
AP/Charles Dharapak, File

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has joined Israel's official Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, in denouncing the Polish bill that would bar any mention of Poland's role in the Holocaust. Polish parliament's lower house passed the controversial bill last Friday which still requires the approval of the upper house. 

The Holocaust Memorial Museum issued a statement on Sunday expressing its "deep concerns" about the law that would "chill a free and open dialogue addressing Poland’s history during the Holocaust" which takes place in "Polish schools and universities as well as in the media."

The Holocaust Memorial Museum also praised historians of Poland and called on the Polish government to "allow open-ended debate and research and the healthy discussions it generates" in order to remain "a leader in Holocaust scholarship."

The Polish law will not affect academic discussion or artistic activity on the subject. However, it is unclear whether the law applies to journalist work and research. Opponents of the law fear that it may create a harmful atmosphere that will stifle academic research.

Yad Vashem issued a statement over the weekend supporting Poland's objection to the term "Polish death camps." It explained that "there is no doubt that the term is a distortion of history. The death camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland with the intention of murdering Jews as part of the final solution."