Posts Tagged ‘Polish death camps’

Israel ‘Adamantly Opposes’ Polish Parliament’s Approval of Controversial Holocaust Bill

February 1, 2018


Minister demands Netanyahu recall ambassador ■ Yad Vashem criticizes bill that criminalizes accusing the Polish people of complicity in Nazi crimes

.Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks at a commemoration event at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, during the ceremonies marking International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, near Oswiecim, Poland, January 27, 2018.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks at a commemoration event at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, during the ceremonies marking International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, near Oswiecim, Poland,\ KACPER PEMPEL/ REUTERS

Israel said on Thursday it “adamantly opposes” a bill that was passed by the Polish Senate overnight, which would criminalize accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes. Israeli officials criticized Poland, with some demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recall the ambassador to Poland over the legislation.

“Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. “No law will change the facts.”

The bill, now pending the approval of President Andrzej Duda, passed a Senate vote overnight despite assurances that dialogue on the legislation would be held with Israel before a vote takes place.

>> The Polish were once victims of historical whitewashing. Now they are doing the same | Analysis

An Israeli official expressed “deep disappointment given the fact that the relationship between the two countries is important to both sides.” He added that “the law’s passage goes against the spirit of the conversation between the two prime ministers [last] Sunday.”

Earlier, Likud Minister Yisrael Katz demanded Netanyahu recall Israel’s ambassador to Poland over the bill. Minister Yoav Gallant said the bill amounts to Holocaust denial, with lawmaker and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni describing it as “spitting in Israel’s face.”

“The [draft] law passed by the Poles is serious and constitutes a denial of responsibility and of Poland’s role in the Jewish Holocaust,” Katz said after Polish lawmakers backed the bill. “In the balance between political and moral considerations, a clear decision must be taken – commemorating the victims of the Holocaust over any other consideration.”

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant tweeted against the bill, saying “The bill that passed tonight by the Senate in Poland is Holocaust denial. The memory of six million is stronger than any law. We will internalize their memory and remember the lesson- that we must defend ourselves by our own strength.”

MK Zipi Livni (Zionist Union) said the approval of the law is “unacceptable and spitting in the face of Israel twice, both as the nation of the Jewish people and also against the prime minister who announced he had reached agreements with the Poles – if there were such [understandings].

“Israel needs to respond firmly, to immediately and openly put on the agenda the documentation of the crimes by Poles during the Holocaust and to send a clear message: We won’t allow them to cause the past to be forgotten.”

>> Death camps weren’t ‘Polish’ – but Poles were bad enough to Jews without them, Holocaust historian says

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem harshly criticized the bill. “It is very disappointing that Poland chose, despite the difficulties with the present wording [of the law] and the harsh protests, to approve the problematic law that could well cause a distortion of the historical truth because of the limitations it places on various expressions concerning the cooperation of parts of the Polish population – directly and indirectly – with the crimes committed on their land during the period of the Holocaust.”

Yad Vashem says it differentiates between the ban on using phrases such as “Polish death camps” – which it also agrees is incorrect –  and “other elements” of the law, which include sections that ban speaking about the part of the “Polish people” in the Nazi crimes or crimes against humanity.

These sections of the law “endanger the free and candid discussion of the part of members of the Polish people in the persecution of Jews during the [Holocaust] period,” said Yad Vashem.

“Yad Vashem will continue to support research that endeavors to uncover the complex truth about the relationship of the Polish population to the Jews during the period of the Holocaust and will promote activities for education and commemoration in this spirit.”

Poland’s PAP news agency reported 57 senators voted for the draft bill, with 23 against and two abstentions.

“We have to send a clear signal to the world that we won’t allow for Poland to continue being insulted,” Patryk Jaki, a deputy justice minister, told reporters in parliament.

The legislation, which bans any claims that the Polish people or Polish state were responsible or complicit in the Nazis’ crimes, also bans minimizing the responsibility of “the real perpetrators” for these crimes.

Media reports of the lower house’s passage of the bill last Friday created a political, public and media storm in Israel. Israeli officials took several steps in response, including a telephone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki.


Poland set to vote on Holocaust bill despite agreeing with Israel to hold off — “Nazi death camps should be called Jewish.”

January 31, 2018

Polish Senate adds controversial legislation to Wednesday’s agenda, as Jerusalem continues to raise concerns

Times of Israel
January 31, 2018

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland speaks in Budapest on January 26, 2018 (AFP/Attila KISBENEDEK)

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland speaks in Budapest on January 26, 2018 (AFP/Attila KISBENEDEK)

The Polish Senate said it would vote Wednesday on a controversial Holocaust bill, despite assurances from the country’s prime minister that Israeli concerns would be addressed before steps were taken to pass it into law.

The Polish Senate confirmed in a post to its official Twitter account that the bill, which criminalizes the blaming of Poles for Nazi atrocities committed on Polish soil during the Holocaust, was on the agenda.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, Sunday night, as the two attempted to set aside a diplomatic spat over the legislation.

Netanyahu has pilloried the law — which prescribes prison time for referring to “Polish death camps” and forbids any mention of Polish complicity in Nazi crimes — as “distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust.”

zebrał się na 55. posiedzeniu. Marszałek zapowiedział, że porządek obrad zostanie uzupełniony o nowelizację ustawy o . rozpatrzą także projekt zmian w regulaminie znoszący tajne . w sprawach personalnych.

Netanyahu and Morawiecki “agreed to immediately open a dialogue between staffs of the two countries, in order to try and reach an understanding over the legislation,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office read on Sunday.

The bill, passed by the lower house of the Polish parliament last week, still needs approval from Poland’s Senate and the country’s president, Andrzej Duda.

Duda on Sunday sought to defuse the crisis by promising “a careful analysis of the final shape of the act” focused on provisions that have alarmed Israel.

However, the next day Duda told public broadcaster TVP that he was “flabbergasted” by Israel’s “violent and very unfavorable reaction” to the bill.

“We absolutely can’t back down, we have the right to defend the historical truth,” he said.

Polish President Andrzej Duda at the presidential palace, Warsaw, Poland, April 10, 2016. (Mateusz Wlodarczyk/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images/JTA)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party says the law is meant to fight expressions like “Polish death camps” to refer to the wartime camps that Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland, but its provisions are wider, criminalizing talk of Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

Poles were among those imprisoned, tortured and killed in the camps, and many today feel that Poles are being unfairly depicted as perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Germany occupied Poland in 1939, annexing part of it to Germany and directly governing the rest. Unlike other countries occupied by Germany at the time, there was no collaborationist government in Poland. The prewar Polish government and military fled into exile, except for an underground resistance army that fought the Nazis inside the country.

The infamous German inscription that reads ‘Work Makes Free’ at the main gate of the Auschwitz I extermination camp on November 15, 2014 in Oswiecim, Poland. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images via JTA)

However, there were many cases of Poles killing Jews or denouncing them to the Germans, with deadly anti-Semitic pogroms continuing during and in one case even after World War II.

The Israeli government in the past has supported the campaign against the phrase “Polish death camps,” but it has strongly criticized the new legislation.

Israel, along with several international Holocaust organizations and many critics in Poland, argues that the law could have a chilling effect on debating history, harming freedom of expression and leading to a whitewashing of Poland’s wartime history.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said it was increasingly concerned about a spate of anti-Semitic expressions in Polish media amid the disagreement between the two governments.

“The Foreign Ministry is monitoring with concern the rising anti-Semitic feelings expressed through the Polish media and we are considering making an appeal via our embassy in Warsaw,” the ministry said.

In one instance, the head of a state-run channel suggested referring to Auschwitz as a “Jewish death camp,” in response to an outcry over use of the term “Polish death camp” to describe the Nazi killing site in German-occupied Poland.

The director of the state-run television station TVP 2, Marcin Wolski, said Monday on air that the Nazi death camps should be called Jewish. “Who managed the crematoria there?” he asked — a reference to the fact that death camp prisoners, usually Jews, were forced to help dispose of gas chamber victims.