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Historic WWII reports coming to Poland: official

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 15.02.2018 08:30
Poland's Witold Pilecki Center for Totalitarian Studies will gain access to a World War II-era report by the Polish government-in-exile on the Nazi extermination of Poles and Jews, Deputy Culture Minister Magdalena Gawin has said.
Magdalena Gawin. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak.Magdalena Gawin. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak.

The report was declassified by the United Nations War Crimes Commission in 2017, and the Witold Pilecki Center will be the fourth institution to receive it, after the Wiener Library in London, London's School of Oriental and African Studies and the Holocaust Memorial in Washington.

“The report by the Polish government in London, through Poland's Home Army's intelligence and counterintelligence, told the West about concentration camps in Poland and the extermination of … Europe's Jews and Poles,” Gawin said.

She said the report would confirm that the allies knew the names and locations of German Nazi concentration and death camps located in occupied Poland during World War II.

“The allies knew what was happening in Poland and did not take any action … they did not bomb a single train line taking wagons full of people to camps and gas chambers,” Gawin added.

Wojciech Kozłowski of the Witold Pilecki Center said Poland now had to wait for UN formalities in order to receive the documents but added that he hoped the centre would be able to show them by the end of the year.

Poland has been granted access to the documents at a time of strained ties between Poland and Israel.

Poland's president recently signed into law new rules which could mean a jail term for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II.

In Poland, the planned new law is seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which implies Poland's involvement in the Holocaust.

Poland has long fought the use of such phrases, which have appeared in foreign media in relation to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Polish territory during World War II.

But commentators have said that Israel is concerned that the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles' role in the Holocaust.

The Polish government has stressed that the law will not affect academic research or artistic expression.

Public broadcaster Polish Radio has launched a new website, GermanDeathCamps.info, aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust.

The Witold Pilecki Center researches Poland's experience of confronting two totalitarian regimes and collects testimonies about German and Soviet crimes.

It is named after Colonel Witold Pilecki, who is known as the victim of two totalitarian systems and the “Auschwitz volunteer”.

In 1940 he allowed himself to be arrested by the Germans and sent to the Auschwitz death camp in order to gain first-hand knowledge of the conditions there.

He managed to send out reports from Auschwitz, indicating that an extermination of European Jews was being prepared by the Germans.

In 1943, having escaped from the camp, Pilecki reached Warsaw, and a year later fought in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war, he went to Italy and joined the Second Corps. He was sent by the Polish intelligence to Poland as a spy. However, he was captured and executed by the communist authorities in 1948. His burial place has never been found. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP

tags: WWII
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