Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Holocaust bill row is 'misunderstanding': Polish minister

Far-Right Groups Demand Polish President Sign Holocaust Bill Polish Nazis: just idiots or an instrument of Germany's propaganda machine?
Lillian Steele | 07 February, 2018, 01:08

The bill foresees jail terms of up to three years for mentioning the term "Polish death camps" and falsely attributing Nazi German crimes at camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

This law is a reaction to the use of the term "Polish death camps", a reference to the Nazi-concentration camps in occupied Poland, which were the main sites of the holocaust.

It has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews to Germans during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

"We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation, if enacted, could have on Poland's strategic interests and relationships - including with the United States and Israel", U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on January 31. Members of the ruling Law and Justice party, including deputy parliament speaker Beata Mazurek, retweeted some of the comments.

"Unfortunately, it is not only the nationalists but also the whole Polish society which will have to pay the price", said Grabowski, who is also a member of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw. Some of the worst Nazi atrocities were committed on Polish soil. To become law, it must be signed by President Andrzej Duda.

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it will continue to discuss the bill with Poland.

Neumann, head of the party's parliamentary caucus, also described the constitutional court as a body without independence that will rule as the governing party wants. Millions of its citizens were killed, including three million Polish Jews in the Holocaust.

But that will happen after he has signed the bill into law.

Jewish groups in the United States have accused the Polish government of "engaging in denial". It said in a statement that the law's "flaws are liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions".

But he said the Polish state bore no responsibility because it ceased to exist following the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Israel has repeatedly expressed outrage, claiming that it will stifle Holocaust discussion and allow for the whitewashing of crimes such as the denunciation and killing of Jews by Poles. "But many Poles all over their country informed, handed over or participated themselves in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterward", Bennett said Monday.

Germany alone carried out the Holocaust, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said amid a row over Poland's bill about Holocaust terminology.

While there is a consensus among historians that certain Polish individuals and groups did collaborate with the Nazi occupiers, recent Polish governments have sought to challenge that narrative.

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