USA 'disappointed' by signing of Holocaust law in Poland

Glen Norman
February 8, 2018

M - Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a law Tuesday banning people from accusing Poland of Holocaust atrocities committed by the Nazis and from referring to concentration camps as "Polish death camps", Washington Post reported.

"We have a right to our historical truth", he added.

The law sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who erroneously describes Nazi German death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau as being Polish, simply due to their geographical location.

Poland, which had Europe's biggest Jewish population when it was invaded by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of World War Two, became ground zero for the "final solution", Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

Duda said the law will now go before Poland's Constitutional Tribunal for a ruling on whether it conforms with free speech guarantees. "Such events took place and we never denied this".

However, historians say others were complicit.

The United States, a close North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally of Poland, expressed disappointment at Duda's decision. "Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry", the Hill cited Tillerson as saying. We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech, he added.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the government of Poland has cancelled the minister's scheduled visit to Warsaw this week after Bennett pledged to use the visit to "make it clear" that Polish complicity in the Holocaust was an historical fact that can not be erased.

Earlier on Monday, Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill, which Israeli officials have said amounts to Holocaust denial.

The EU has stayed quiet on the Holocaust law.

Jewish organisations from across the globe have also expressed deep concern.

"It seems inconceivable that an European Union member state can be permitted to whitewash history by imposing draconian legislation that can imprison people for holding an alternative view on what happened during Europe's darkest days", Margolin added.

"The death camps in Poland were built and operated by the Germans, and we can not allow them to evade responsibility for these actions", Bennett said. But research published since the fall of communism in 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them to the Nazi occupiers, challenging the national narrative that Poland was exclusively a victim.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that he was concerned about the decision of the Senate of Poland.

"This goal was complemented by a narrative of rapprochement and reconciliation with Israel, Ukraine, and Germany, Poland's important and most Western neighbour,"she said".

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