Leading Polish Lawmaker Honors Victims of 1941 Synagogue Burning

Jaroslaw Kaczynski stresses German responsibility for the Holocaust, the dangers of anti-Semitism and the need for cooperation with Israel in speech in Bialystok.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of ruling party Law and Justice attends a news conference in party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, June 24, 2016.
Kacper Pempel, Reuters

The leader of the largest political party in Poland took part in ceremonies commemorating the burning of a synagogue in Bialystok during the Holocaust.

In his speech Monday at the Great Synagogue of Bialystok, Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the Law and Justice Party stressed German responsibility for the Holocaust, the dangers of anti-Semitism and the need for cooperation with Israel.

“The Holocaust was the fault of the German state and the German people who supported Adolf Hitler,” Kaczynski said at the ceremony. “German elite were unable to get into any real opposition.”

On June 27, 1941, German troops marched into Bialystok and murdered some 2,500 Jews. About 1,000 Jews were burned alive in the city’s synagogue.

Kaczynski said the peoples of other nations of Europe, including Poles, also committed crimes during the war, but it would not have been possible without the aggression of Germany. He also said that in Europe today, there is a new anti-Semitism directed against Israel.

“We have to keep talking about what leads to anti-Semitism in any form, including the present day, hidden under the term anti-Zionism,” he said.