THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
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 newspaper.
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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