Polish Parliament's Lower House Votes to Criminalize Mention of Polish Crimes in the Holocaust

The bill, which still requires the approval of the upper house, would also make it illegal to use the term 'Polish death camp' anywhere in the world

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Jews await 'selection' at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, Poland, May 1944.
Jews await 'selection' at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, Poland, May 1944.Credit: Ernst Hofmann / Bernhard Walte

>>UPDATE (January 28): Polish PM defends new Holocaust law: 'Auschwitz-Birkenau, Arbeit Macht Frei are not Polish'

The lower house of the Polish parliament has approved a controversial bill that would forbid any mention of participation of the "Polish nation" in crimes committed during the Holocaust. The bill would also bar use of the term "Polish death camp" to describe the death camps where Jews and others were murdered in Nazi-occupied Poland during the World War II.

Anyone who violates the legislation, including non-Polish citizens, would be subject to a fine or imprisonment of up to three years, The bill still requires approval by the upper house of parliament before it becomes law.

To really understand Israel and the Jewish World - subscribe to Haaretz

According to the bill approved on Friday by the lower house, anyone who publicly attributes guilt or complicity to the Polish state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany, war crimes or other crimes against humanity, would be subject to criminal proceedings. Punishment would also be imposed on those who are seen to "deliberately reduce the responsibility of the 'true culprits' of these crimes."

>> Polish embassy tries to school Israeli lawmaker on Holocaust, gets lesson in humility: 'My grandmother was murdered in Poland' <<

The bill would apply both to Polish citizens and to foreigners regardless which country the statement is supposed to have been made in.

Some lawmakers have taken to Twitter to call it out. Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, tweeted that it was "amazing and sad [that] the Polish embassy trying to preach to us about the memory of the Holocaust."

The implication of the new bill means that in theory, a Jewish Holocaust survivors from Poland who lives in Israel, who may make a statement such as "the Polish people were involved in the murder of my grandfather in the Holocaust," or "my mother was murdered in a Polish extermination camp," would be liable for imprisonment in Poland.

Polish Deputy Justice Minister Patrick Yaki told parliament on Friday: "Every day, around the world, the term 'Polish extermination camps' is used - in other words, the crimes of Nazi Germany are attributed to the Poles. So far Poland has not been able to effectively combat this kind of insult against the Polish nation."

The law has yet to be passed by the Senate and the Polish president, however is considered to have passed its largest hurdle.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage