Jewish NGO Considers Travel Advisory for Jews Traveling to Poland

Simon Wiesenthal Center advisory would urge Jews to limit their travel to Poland only to visit ancestral graves and Holocaust-era Death Camps

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Two girls draped in Israeli flags sit in front of a barbed wire fence in the former German Nazi Death Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau during the yearly March of the Living, in Brzezinka, Poland, Thursday, May 5, 2016.
Two girls draped in Israeli flags sit in front of a barbed wire fence in the former German Nazi Death Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Brzezinka, Poland, Thursday, May 5, 2016.Credit: Alik Keplicz / AP

Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center said on Wednesday it was considering issuing a travel advisory for Jews urging them to limit their visits to Poland due to the country's strained relationship with Israel.

"In wake of the controversial new Holocaust Law in Poland and the anti-Semitism it has unleashed that has left the Jewish community shaken, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is considering issuing a Travel Advisory for world Jewry," the organisation said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

"A Travel Advisory would urge Jews to limit their travel to Poland only to visit ancestral graves and Holocaust-era Death Camps," the NGO named after legendary Nazi hunter who died in 2005 said.

This month Poland sparked international criticism when it approved the controversial law banning mention of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. despite earlier reports, the Polish government has confirmed there would be no criminal prosection of those who breach the legislation.

Recently, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki caused an uproar when he said that there were "Jewish perpetrators" in the Holocaust, along with Polish and Russian ones.

Poland's nationalist ruling party says the new law is needed to ensure that Poles are also recognised as victims, not perpetrators, of Nazi aggression. It notes that the Nazis also viewed Slavs as racially inferior and that many Poles were killed or forced into slave labour during the German occupation.

Many Poles believe their nation behaved ethically for the most part during the Holocaust. But research published since 1989 has sparked a painful debate about responsibility and reconciliation.

A 2000-2004 inquiry by Poland's state Institute of National Remembrance found that on July 10, 1941, Nazi occupiers and local inhabitants colluded in a massacre of at least 340 Jews at Jedwabne. Some victims were burned alive after being locked inside a barn.

The revelation disturbed the Poles' belief that, with a few exceptions, they conducted themselves honorably during a vicious war in which a fifth of the nation perished. Some Poles still refuse to acknowledge the IPN's findings.

Anti-Semitism was common in Poland in the run-up to World War II. After the war, a pogrom in the town of Kielce and a bout of anti-Semitism in 1968 sponsored by the communist authorities forced many survivors who had stayed in Poland to flee.

Some three million Jews who lived in pre-war Poland were murdered by the Nazis during their occupation of the country. They accounted for about half of all Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The SWC with headquarters in Los Angeles is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States.

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