THE TIMES OF
February 22, 2021
Polish State Historian Resigns After
Far-Right Past Revealed
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish historian
resigned Monday from the government’s historical institute after controversy
erupted over his past ties with a far-right organization and photos of him
making the stiff-armed fascist salute.
Tomasz Greniuch was recently appointed
to head the Wroclaw office of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a
state organization whose role is to document Nazi and communist crimes carried
out on Polish soil.
Outrage had been mounting over the
appointment in Poland, a country that suffered enormously under Nazi German
rule in World War II. However, the fact that Greniuch was even named to the
role was seen by some as evidence of right-wing extremism becoming mainstream,
under Poland’s conservative ruling Law and Justice party.
The party has sought to prevent other
right-wing parties from cutting into its base, which has led leaders to
sometimes try to appeal to ultra-nationalist voters.
Greniuch also authored a book, “The Way
of the Nationalist,” published in 2013, which glorifies Léon Degrelle, a
Belgian collaborator of the Third Reich, according to the Gazeta Wyborcza
President Andrzej Duda had awarded
Greniuch in 2018 with the Bronze Cross of Merit, a state decoration awarded for
his scholarship on the so-called “cursed soldiers.” Those were Polish
resistance fighters who opposed communist forces in the later stages of World
War II and in the war’s aftermath.
Greniuch, who is in his late 30s, issued
a public apology Friday for his past behavior.
“I have never been a Nazi. I apologize
once again for the irresponsible gesture from several years ago and I consider
it a mistake,” he said. He described his past behavior as “youthful bravado”
and said he had never meant to glorify any form of totalitarianism.
Outrage in Poland has grown as images
have been published of Greniuch making the stiff-armed salute years ago, and
participating in demonstrations as a young man with the National Radical Camp,
a far-right group that traces its roots to an anti-Semitic and openly fascist
movement that existed before World War II.
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