In an open letter to Polish people, WJC urges Polish leadership to engage in dialogue with Jewish representatives

WARSAW - World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder and WJC Chief Executive Officer Robert Singer have issued an open letter in the Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita calling on the Polish leadership to engage in dialogue with Jewish representatives amid the “firestorm of ill-will” that has erupted over the proposed new law which makes it illegal to say or write that the Polish Nation was responsible for the murder of Jews, terming it “an argument that just didn’t need to happen.”

Read the full letter in Polish and English

Under the title ‘An Open Letter to the Polish People,’ the World Jewish Congress leaders decried the law and underscored the need for a rational approach to the conflict given the indisputable historical facts and complexities of what occurred during the Holocaust. The Jewish leaders emphasized the need for Poles and Jews to resume the positive relations they shared for centuries, adding that “when Jewish citizens are safe and can prosper in Poland, this isn’t just good for the Jews, it’s good for everyone in Poland.”

Poland was once “the most tolerant country in Europe,” the letter states, a reality which came to a “horrible end when the Germans invaded Poland.”

“These are the facts: Adolf Hitler and the Nazis set up the apparatus that murdered six million Jews, including the death camps. There were willing accomplices in every country Germany occupied who helped round up Jews and who took part in the mass murders. At the same time, there were also individuals who risked their lives to save Jewish men, women and children. And although Jews were the Nazis’ main target, there were hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, Poles and others, who were murdered in the concentration camps – political opponents, Roma, Soviet POW’s, homosexuals, priests, intellectuals, anyone who stood up to the Nazi regime,” the letter adds.

“This took place in every single occupied country throughout Europe, including Poland. To suggest otherwise is not just falsifying history, it is a lie. There were Polish Christians who saved Jews and there were Poles who helped kill them. In the end, most of the more than three million Polish Jews were murdered, and Poland lost nearly all its Jewish population.”

In the letter, the World Jewish Congress leaders notes Ambassador Lauder’s years of personal involvement since before the fall of the Soviet Union in helping to rebuild Jewish schools and life in Poland, which he did because he believed it “important that this crucial part of Polish history – the Jewish involvement – not be extinguished forever. And it has worked. The Jewish community, although tiny, is thriving and that is, in many ways, thanks to the positive help of the Polish government.”

Today, as Jewish life in Poland is continuing to grow and bilateral relations with Israel is strong, the letter notes, dialogue is essential. “This entire controversy must now be dialed back, and we would like to see Polish and Jewish leaders sit down now and get back to the business of reconciliation and progress,” the letter concludes.

On Monday, WJC President Lauder issued a similar open letter in the New York Times, under the headline It’s Time to Dial Back the Rhetoric in Poland'.

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