Poland deserves Righteous tree at Yad Vashem: PM
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland as a state deserves its own tree in Yad Vashem's Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, which recognises people who helped save Jews during World War II, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said.
Some of the roughly 2,000 trees marking the Righteous Among the Nations in the garden at Yad Vashem. Photo: Proesi/German Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0 de)
Morawiecki said that Jews and Poles had a shared 1,000-year-long history, that Jews “found shelter” and their “place in the world” in Poland, and that Poland gave Jews privileges at a time that other countries were driving them out.
“How can we compare occupied Poland, where helping Jews was punishable by the death not only of the person who helped – by giving a glass of water or piece of bread – but the [helper's] entire family and village, to the situation in … the Netherlands or Denmark, where maybe only a handful of people died [because they helped Jews]? Where the entire state collaborated with Nazi Germans while in [occupied] Poland the Polish Underground State sentenced to death those who denounced or killed Jews,” Morawiecki said.
Morawiecki spoke in Chełm, eastern Poland, about Polish-Jewish ties in relation to a new Polish law that could mean a jail term for anyone who accuses the Polish state or nation of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II. The law has triggered tensions between Poland and Israel.
In Poland, the planned new law is seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which suggests that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust.
Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska has said: “It was the Germans who attacked Poland, while the Poles and Jews were the victims”.
“There were no Polish death camps, no Polish concentration camps or Polish extermination camps. We must set the record straight by continually explaining and clarifying things,” she added.
But the law was slammed by Israel. Its ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, said: "In Israel, this bill is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony. The emotions are running high”.
Poland has stressed that the new law will not stifle academic research or artistic expression.
GermanDeathCamps.info, a new educational website aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust, has been launched by Polish Radio.
The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem aims to honour non-Jews who during the Holocaust risked their lives to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. Yad Vashem receives about one million visitors each year. (vb/pk)
Source: PAP, IAR