Relatives of Auschwitz Prisoners Object to Polish ex-PM's Nomination to Museum Council

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 Beata Szydlo speaks to reporters in Warsaw, Poland, two years ago.
Beata Szydlo speaks to reporters in Warsaw, Poland, two years ago.Credit: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Relatives of former prisoners at the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp voiced their opposition to the nomination of Beata Szydlo, Poland's former prime minister, to the museum's scientific council.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, one former inmate and several relatives of Auschwitz prisoners wrote that Szydlo's government held an ideology of exclusion, which became "an important point of its political program" and was unbecoming of an institution that bears witness to Nazi atrocities.

They accused the former prime minister of making comments that shunned refugees, supporting attempts to stifle Holocaust research, tolerating openly fascist organizations and undermining EU alliances "which were formed ... so that history from Auschwitz is not repeated," the letter released on Friday reads.

Szydlo became prime minister in 2015, at the height of the European migration crisis. The opposition against accepting refugees in Poland was one of the core messages sent to voters by her party, the socially conservative Law and Justice.

Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski, who nominated Szydlo to the council in April, said her presence would be an honor for the museum. However, four members of the council, an advisory body, resigned in protest.

"It was not about exclusion that the prisoners dreamt of ... in an infested barrack," the letter's signatories wrote. "Their dream was a Poland that was friendly to its citizens, regardless of what their name is, where they come from and what religion they profess."

Over 1 million people, most of them Jews, perished in the German Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp built in occupied Poland during World War II.

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