Poland Stokes Holocaust Law Storm as Israeli Leader Lashes Out

Feb 19, 2018, 00:48
Poland Stokes Holocaust Law Storm as Israeli Leader Lashes Out

Shortly before he said that "there were Jewish perpetrators" in the Holocaust, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited a monument commemorating Poles who collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, speaks during the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC), in Munich, Germany.

The building was closed to the public as is usual on Saturday and Sunday.

Morawiecki's comments sparked outrage among politicians in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Poland "was the only place on Earth" where thousands of Polish families were exterminated by the Nazis and the entire villages were annihilated "for helping our Jewish brothers and sisters", Morawiecki said.

"The two agreed that the countries would continue their dialogue on the matter and that to this end the teams would hopefully meet soon".

Vandals drew misshapen swastikas and wrote slurs in English, including "Polish shit", on the embassy's gates, police said.

Poland sparked worldwide criticism over its stance on the facts of the Holocaust when it passed a law earlier this month imposing jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the deaths of millions of Jews during the war.

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The law imposes fines and prescribes a maximum three-year sentence to anyone found guilty of ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich".

On Saturday Morawiecki had been questioned by a journalist who told of his mother's narrow escape from the Gestapo in Poland after learning that neighbours were planning to denounce them, and asked if recounting that would now be against the law in Poland.

"There were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian; not only German perpetrators", Morawiecki said, sparking further Israeli anger.

Proponents of the law claim that it is aimed at countering erroneous finger pointing for crimes committed by Nazis during the German occupation of Poland.

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"But we can not agree with mixing perpetrators with victims, because it would be first of all an offense to all the Jews and all the Poles who suffered greatly during the Second World War".

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