Polish lawmakers move to make use of phrase "Polish death camps" illegal

Jan 29, 2018, 00:36
Polish lawmakers move to make use of phrase

The use of such phrases would be considered to be defamation of the "Polish nation".

The missive came after a fiery exchange between Israeli centrist party leader Yair Lapid and Poland's embassy in Israel on social networking site Twitter.

To which Lapid responded: "I am a son of a Holocaust survivor".

Polish lawmakers approved the bill on Friday, making it punishable by up to three years in jail to use suggestive statements like "Polish death camps". The legislation still needs to be approved by Poland's Senate and president before becoming a law.

As a diplomatic row brewed on the day the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Poland's charge d'affaires to Israel has been summoned to the foreign ministry on Sunday, the ministry said. "Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered on its soil without them having met any German officer".

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In December, a Polish court ruled that the German TV network ZDF, which in a video that it had published to promote its documentary, referred to "Polish death camps", must apologize to a survivor of the Auschwitz camp.

"Your unsupportable claims show how badly Holocaust education is needed, even here in Israel", the embassy tweeted. I don't need Holocaust education from you.

Poland hosted pre-war Europe's largest Jewish population and there were thousands of reported incidents in which Jews were betrayed by non-Jewish Poles including former neighbors and friends, and when local populations took part in Nazi-led actions to kill Jews. "Your embassy should offer an immediate apology".

For decades, Polish society avoided discussing the killing of Jews by civilians or denied that anti-Semitism motivated the slayings, blaming all atrocities on the Germans.

But since the conservative and nationalistic Law and Justice party consolidated power in 2015, it has sought to stamp out discussions and research on the topic. According to Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, no more than 2,500 Jews were killed by Poles during the Holocaust and directly thereafter.

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Holocaust researchers have collected ample evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis.

But he acknowledged that phrases such as "Polish camps" were misrepresentative.

"Jews, Poles, and all victims should be guardians of the memory of all who were murdered by German Nazis".

In Warsaw's parliament on Friday Polish Deputy Justice Minister Patrick Yaki said that "every day, around the world, the term "Polish extermination camps" is used - in other words, the crimes of Nazi Germany are attributed to the Poles".

Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska wrote on Twitter that the legislation aimed "to show the truth about the bad crimes committed on Poles, Jews, and other nations that were in the 20th century victims of brutal totalitarian regimes - German Nazi regime and Soviet communism".

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"Restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people's direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion", it said.

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