Merkel: Germany Won't Directly Interfere With Polish Holocaust Bill

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany on Jan 17, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany on Jan 17, 2018Credit: Michael Sohn/AP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she won't directly interfere with a law that criminalizes certain statements about Poland's World War II history because, "as Germans, we are responsible for the things that happened during the Holocaust."

Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday that the onus on Germany from the Holocaust is something every government will acknowledge and have to address.

Merkel was asked if she saw the recent law as a restriction of freedom of expression or historical research.

She answered, saying that "Without intervening directly in the legislation in Poland, I would like to say very clearly only the following, here as German Chancellor: We are responsible as Germans for the things that happened during the Holocaust, the Shoah, during National Socialism and this responsibility will be upheld by every federal government, which is why we will continue to promote the memorial sites in Kreisau and Auschwitz in the future. We also want to show young people from Germany how they are doing. It is only on this basis that we can shape a good and common future with Poland, but also throughout Europe and in the world."

The Polish law allows prison terms of up to three years for statements attributing Nazi crimes in German-occupied Poland to the Polish nation.

It has caused a diplomatic dispute with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews during the occupation.

Merkel is scheduled to meet Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Berlin on Friday.

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