'Polish death camp' and lies about WWII is also Holocaust denial: Polish PM
PR dla Zagranicy
Holocaust denial is not only the denial of German crimes but also lying about history, including minimising the responsibility of perpetrators and assigning blame to their victims, the Polish prime minister has said amid tensions with Israel over plans to penalise the use of the misleading phrase “Polish death camps”.
Mateusz Morawiecki. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the Holocaust was an unimaginable crime and “attempts to negate it should always be condemned”.
He added that Poland has long tried to fight deniers and that the country wanted to fight lies about the Holocaust.
“That is why we are changing the law... Camps, in which millions of Jews were killed, were not Polish. This truth must be protected because it is part of the truth about the Holocaust,” Morawiecki said.
Morawiecki highlighted that the Polish government condemned all World War II crimes, “regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the nationality of the victim,” adding that Poles and Jews were both victims of the Nazi German regime.
Morawiecki spoke on Thursday evening amid tensions between Poland and Israel which emerged after Poland's lower house last week passed a bill that would introduce penalties for anyone who publicly ascribes blame to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany.
Commentators have said that Israel is concerned that the law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises any individual Pole's role in the Holocaust.
Israeli ambassador to Poland Anna Azari said her country rejected the bill, adding: "In Israel, this bill is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony".
The Polish bill has also been criticised for limiting freedom of speech.
But the government in Warsaw has stressed that artistic expression and academic research would be exempt under the new laws.
“We will not limit freedoms in the debate about the Holocaust, we owe that to everyone who experienced it,” Morawiecki said.
“We understand emotions in Israel. A lot of work is needed for us to be able to tell, together, our shared and often complicated history,” he added.
A working group for “historical truth and Israeli dialogue” was called on Thursday, after Morawiecki and his Israeli counterpart earlier agreed to hold bilateral dialogue.
GermanDeathCamps.info, a new educational website aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust, has been launched by Polish Radio.
The Polish bill was passed in the Senate on Thursday and needs to be signed by President Andrzej Duda before it enters into law. (vb/pk)