|Andrej Krauze source|
On Friday, January 26 2018, the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, the lower house of the Polish Parliament passed a law criminalizing speech about the Holocaust. Violators would face three years in prison or a fine, reports Radio Poland. "The new law would apply to both Polish citizens and foreigners 'regardless of the rules in force in the location where the act was committed,' according to the official wording."
Reuters' Marcin Goettig wrote that the bill criminalizes "statements suggesting Poland bears responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany. The bill will also make it illegal to deny the murder of about 100,000 Poles by units in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during World War Two, a move likely to increase tensions with neighboring Ukraine…
"PiS is currently battling accusations from the opposition that the party’s nationalist-minded, eurosceptic focus was helping to reinvigorate the far right. The head of the Ukrainian national remembrance institute said on social media on Thursday that passing of the bill was likely to halt cooperation between Ukrainian and Polish historians, the PAP agency reported."
"Israel's President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement about the legislation that there were Polish people who aided the Nazis and those who fought against them. 'Only 73 years have passed since the gates of hell were flung open. Living Holocaust survivors are disappearing from the world and we still have to fight for the memory of the Holocaust as it was,' Rivlin said.
'The Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the entire world must ensure that the Holocaust is recognized for its horrors and atrocities. Also among the Polish people there were those who aided the Nazis in their crimes. Every crime, every offense, must be condemned. They must be examined and revealed. There were also others among them who fought and were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations,' Rivlin said.
Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, said in a statement issued Saturday night that it opposes the new legislation, saying it is 'liable to blur the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust.'"
This law is a disaster. It will do nothing to improve Poland's reputation and only worsen Poland's reputation. This law, if passed, will place a mask of anti-free-speech fascism on Poland's face internationally. It will convince many that Poland must be guilty of the Holocaust; else why would Poland feel it necessary to pass a law to jail anyone who says that Poland is guilty?
Yes, Poland has been falsely accused of Holocaust crimes. That is the point of my book Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype. The answer to the problem of Poland's bad reputation is not to throw people in jail for their speech. The answer to speech one does not like is not less speech, but more speech.
Poles must learn to do as other stigmatized groups have done. Poles must learn to put aside their backstabbing and infighting, to unite, organize, and act strategically. For more on that, see this blog post, "The Crisis in Polonian Leadership, Organization and Vision." This blog post offers a plan of action.
For a different point of view on this new law, please see guest blog post, below, by Arno Lowi. Arno is of Polish-Jewish descent. We met in Poland years ago when we were both studying Polish-Jewish matters through the Kosciuszko Foundation at the Jagiellonian University.
Israeli officials including their Prime Minister Netanyahu are in the news due to their efforts to force the Polish government to rescind a draft Polish law which makes it illegal to implicate Poland in the Holocaust, or to refer to the Nazi death camps in Poland as "Polish death camps."
The Polish draft law squares with history; anyone who knows WW2 history knows that the Holocaust was a Nazi-German project, knows that Poles were arch enemies of the Nazis, and that the Nazis began WW2 with an invasion of Poland.
The Nazis built death camps in several countries. Since Poland had the largest concentration of Jews and Poles, and the Nazis had a notorious plan to exterminate Jews and to wipe Poland, and Polish culture off the face of the earth, building death camps in Poland was a mere *practical decision* to reduce the cost of transporting Jews and Poles to their deaths.
While Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu cautions Poland against *holocaust denial* it is the Israeli Prime Minister who is in denial; Poles knew the holocaust before anyone else did, as many millions of Catholic Poles perished in Nazi death camps on Polish soil. To quote The Holocaust Encyclopedia, "non-Jewish Poles constituted the majority of inmates in Poland-based Nazi concentration camps until March 1942".
The real news story here is Israeli anti-Polish-ism, and Israel interfering in Polish affairs. Israel has nothing to teach Poles about the Holocaust. Perhaps it is time Israel learned from the Poles.
The following is from the Holocaust Encyclopedia article "Polish Victims."
"The German occupation of Poland was exceptionally brutal. The Nazis considered Poles to be racially inferior. Following the military defeat of Poland by Germany in September 1939, the Germans launched a campaign of terror. German police units shot thousands of Polish civilians and required all Polish males to perform forced labor. The Nazis sought to destroy Polish culture by eliminating the Polish political, religious, and intellectual leadership. This was done in part because of German contempt for Polish culture and in part to prevent resistance against the occupation.
In May 1940, the German occupation authorities launched AB-Aktion, a plan to eliminate the Polish intelligentsia and leadership class. The aim was to kill Polish leaders with great speed, thus instilling fear in the general population and discouraging resistance. The Germans shot thousands of teachers, priests, and other intellectuals in mass killings in and around Warsaw, especially in the city's Pawiak prison. The Nazis sent thousands more to the newly built Auschwitz concentration camp, to Stutthof, and to other concentration camps in Germany where non-Jewish Poles constituted the majority of inmates until March 1942.
The Nazis conducted indiscriminate retaliatory measures against populations in areas where resistance was encountered. These policies included mass expulsions. In November 1942, the Germans expelled over 100,000 people from the Zamosc region; many were deported to the Auschwitz and Majdanek camps. Approximately 50,000 Polish children were taken from their families, transferred to the Reich, and subjected to "Germanization" policies.
Following the annexation of western Poland to Germany, Hitler ordered the "Germanization" of Polish territory. Nazi governors (such as Arthur Greiser in the Warthegau and Albert Forster in Danzig-West Prussia) expelled hundreds of thousands of Poles from their homes in the Generalgouvernement. More than 500,000 ethnic Germans were then settled in these areas.
A Polish government-in-exile, led by Wladyslaw Sikorski, was established in London. It was represented on Polish soil by the underground "Delegatura," whose primary function was to coordinate the activities of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa). The Polish resistance staged a violent mass uprising against the Germans in Warsaw in August 1944. The rebellion lasted two months but was eventually crushed by the Germans. More than 200,000 Poles were killed in the uprising.
Between 1939 and 1945, at least 1.5 million Polish citizens were deported to German territory for forced labor. Hundreds of thousands were also imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps.
It is estimated that the Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. In addition, the Germans murdered at least 3 million Jewish citizens of Poland."
- Arno Lowi