Poland Doubles Down: Poland Has a Right to Fight Historical Lies, Just as Jews Combat anti-Semitism

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels, December 14, 2017.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels, December 14, 2017. Credit: AP/Olivier Matthys
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Poland doubled down on its position, saying Monday that the proposed Holocaust law, which raised a furor in Israel over the weekend, is legitimate and required in order to protect Poland’s reputation in the face of lies about the country’s past.

The official line now touted stresses that during World War II the Polish people, whose country had been overrun by the Nazis, were victims of the German occupation just like the Jews were and that only some Polish citizens were partners of Nazi crimes, not the entire nation.

>> Polish president seeks to reassure Israel: Those who share 'personal' Holocaust memories won't be punished

Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, posted a parable on his Twitter account, which in his view shows how Poland is being wronged by anyone who claims it played a part in the Holocaust: “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.”

Mateusz MorawieckiCredit: @MorawieckiM

The criminals, according to Morawiecki, are the Nazis. The building is Poland and the two families are the two peoples, the Poles and the Jews, who lived in Poland side by side. The first family, which was almost entirely killed, are the Jews. The second family, part of which was killed and part of which was tortured, are the Poles.

Morawiecki then asked: “Could one, in good conscience, say that the second family is guilty for the murder of the first?” In other words, can one argue that the Poles, who were themselves murdered and tortured by the Nazis, were responsible for the murder of Jews?

In a speech, he said Poland was a victim too: "Camps were built in the then non-existent Nation of Poland by the Germans, by the Nazis, who together with Soviet Russia attacked Poland, tore it apart it and destroyed it!"

He emphasized it is the Poles' "right as a nation, just as it is the right of the Jews is to combat anti-Semitism," to clarify the role Poland played in the tragic events: "There was no systematic support, from the Polish side, for the Holocaust, only the fight against it." He then called on the international community to acknowledge this "basic truth."

>> I used to care about Polish sensitivity to charges of Holocaust complicity. Not now | Opinion

Added to these remarks came the words of Poland’s undersecretary of state, Marek Magierowski, who was referring to the law, which was approved in the lower house of Poland’s parliament on Friday. The law calls for prison terms for anyone claiming that the “Polish nation” participated in Nazi crimes.

Magierowski said: "The new law is not aimed at curtailing historical research or denying the complicity of some Polish citizens in the Holocaust. It's about combatting historical distortions. The Polish nation was not responsible for the Holocaust. It was the German invaders who brought that calamity upon the Jewish people. We will never forget the suffering of the European Jews, but it is our utmost obligation to also defend our good name."

Click the alert icon to follow topics: