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Wałęsa willing to promote Polish history after FBI furore

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 22.04.2015 09:26
Former Polish president Lech Wałęsa has said he is on hand to help promote his country's history after the director of the FBI implied that Poland was co-responsible for the Holocaust.
Lech Walęsa. Photo: wikimedia commons/Stowarzyszenia SIEMACHALech Walęsa. Photo: wikimedia commons/Stowarzyszenia SIEMACHA

''This is the domain of the state, and I'm retired, but of course I won't shirk from the task, I'm ready,'' he told TVN.

''We should speak more here and there about our history,'' he added.

In an apparent allusion to Polish WWII hero Jan Karski, who as a courier transmitted information about the Holocaust to London and Washington, Wałęsa argued that America itself could have done more to curb Hitler's policy of annihilating Europe's Jews.

''It should have been said that if anyone is to blame, then it's more the United States than Poland,'' he argued.

''Had they listened to our information, [the situation] would have turned around quickly and Hitler would have been stopped.

''But they didn't listen, they left us in a difficult situation.

''They are more to blame than us,'' he argued.

On Sunday, President Bronisław Komorowski said that ''painstaking work on dismantling bad, inaccurate, harmful stereotypes about Poles'' needs to be carried out.

Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich likewise criticised the comments of FBI director James Comey.

Polish academics protest

Meanwhile, a group of Polish historians, together with directors of museums and cultural institutions, has addressed a letter to US Ambassador in Warsaw Stephen Mull in connection with the affair.

In the letter, they give a brief outline of the plight of the Polish nation under the occupation. They write that Poland had found itself under German and Soviet occupation in the wake of the Western allies’ failure to come to Warsaw’s assistance, and that after World War Two the allied powers placed Poland in the Soviet sphere of influence.

The Polish historians recall that even though sheltering Jews carried a death sentence many Poles risked their lives to rescue Jews, as evidenced by thousands of Polish gentiles holding the Righteous among the Nations medals from the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem.

The signatories of the letter, which they asked to be handed over to Mr Comey, have invited the FBI director to come to Poland for a study tour.

Among the signatories of the letter are the directors of the Museums of Auschwitz, of the History of Polish Jews and of the 1944 Warsaw Rising.

Mull himself was summoned by the foreign ministry over the weekend, and he stressed that Comey's comments did not reflect the stance of the US government. (nh/mk)

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