February 25, 2018

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Polish President Approves Controversial Holocaust Bill

07 February 2018

The measure, passed by Polish MPs, will impose prison terms of up to three years for statements blaming Poles as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Kopcinska said that Poland would like to talk about "the huge involvement of the Polish nation in saving Jews during the war because, under the conditions of German occupation, people of Jewish origin could hardly be saved without the help of Poles".

On Friday, the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw said Israel did not oppose Poland's fight to stop the use of the phrase "Polish death camps", saying the proper term for sites such as Auschwitz was "German Nazi camps".

"(This bill). protects Polish interests. our dignity, the historical that we are not slandered as a state and as a nation", said Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) which introduced the legislation. Amendments to the law envisage fines or imprisonment for up to three years for "sharing responsibility before the Polish people or the state, including for crimes committed by the Third Reich". To become law, it must be signed by President Andrzej Duda. The tribunal could send the bill back to lawmakers asking for parts-or all-of the legislation to be changed.

Azari told the commercial Radio Zet station on Monday that after Poland's Senate adopted the bill on Thursday she "had signals" she may be withdrawn but that "now I don't know".

Jan Grabowski, a historian at the University of Ottawa in Canada who studies Polish violence against Jews during the war, called Duda's signing of the law "further proof that the nationalists now in power in Poland will do anything to cater to the hard, right-wing core of their electorate".

According to figures from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis also killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians.

Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the law, saying it is an attempt to rewrite history. It said in a statement that the law's "flaws are liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions".

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said this weekend that "there is not the slightest doubt about who is responsible for the extermination camps, who made them work to kill millions of European Jews: namely the Germans". Similarly, no one who uses the phrase "Polish death camps" - including former USA president Barack Obama and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey - does so out of ill will toward Poland.

"It was my honor", Naftali Bennett said in a statement Monday evening.

"This organized mass murder was carried out by our country and no one else", Gabriel said, referring to the murder of 6 million Jews across Europe by Nazi Germany - including more than 3 million in then-occupied Poland. But research published since the fall of communism in 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them to the Nazi occupiers, challenging the national narrative that Poland was exclusively a victim.

Polish President Approves Controversial Holocaust Bill