Poland Drops Case Against Journalist Who Wrote That Poles Participated in the Holocaust

Katarzyna Markusz was investigated after complaint from government-funded Polish organization over assertion that ‘Polish participation in the Holocaust is a historical fact’

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Polish journalist Katarzyna Markusz.
Polish journalist Katarzyna Markusz.
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Warsaw police have closed the case against Polish journalist investigated for an article stating that “Polish participation in the Holocaust is a historical fact.”

Katarzyna Markusz was questioned by police in Warsaw at the beginning of February, suspected of “slandering the good name of the Polish nation.”

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The explanation given for closing the investigation, as reported in the Polish media, was that no crime had been committed.

“This whole investigation was meant to scare me and other journalists and historians from writing the truth about Polish involvement in the Holocaust,” Markusz told Haaretz. “But those who wanted to scare me simply failed. I’m not going to change anything and I’m not going to stop writing about it.”

The criminal complaint against Markusz was filed by a Polish organization named Verba Veritatis, meaning “The Word of Truth,” which is fighting what’s known in Poland as “anti-Polonism.” The organization receives funding from the Polish Justice Ministry.

The monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, last month.Credit: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

The maximum sentence for “slandering the good name of the Polish nation” is three years in prison. The article by Markusz was published last October on the left-wing Polish website Krytyka Polityczna. It states: “Will the day come when the Polish authorities admit there was widespread hostility to the Jews among Poles, and that Polish participation in the Holocaust is a historical fact?”

Markusz said investigators asked her “if I’m the author of this article, if I wanted to offend the nation [and] if not – what was my goal while writing this piece.

“Polish politicians are trying to scare those who disagree with them,” she said. “My case is only one example of that. For sure, there will be more. This time the truth has won. But I have no idea what will happen in the future if there are more cases like that, more right-wing organizations, more money from Polish politicians,” said Markusz.

Markusz, 39, writes for a number of Polish websites, magazines and newspapers. She is not Jewish, and after she was questioned, the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Shudrich, came out in support of her. He called on Polish prosecutors to investigate him too, if they opened a criminal case against Markusz.

In 2015, the famous Polish historian Prof. Jan T. Gross was investigated for the same offense, but the case against him was closed in the end.

Meanwhile, two other Polish historians lost a libel lawsuit earlier this month and were ordered to apologize to the niece of a deceased Polish citizen who was described in their book as being an accomplice in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

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