NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress has strongly objected to a proposed new Polish law which would criminalize suggestions that Poland was responsible for Nazis crimes, calling it “an act of historical obfuscation and an attack on democracy.”
“Poles are understandably sensitive when Nazi annihilation and concentration camps are referred to as ‘Polish,’ simply due to their location on Polish soil, and they want it to be clear that Germans, not Poles, were responsible for establishing and maintaining these factories of death in which millions of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer, noting that more than 70,000 non-Jewish Poles were also estimated to have perished at Auschwitz alone.
“While it is true that Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, Chełmno, Sobibór and Bełżec should be referred to as ‘Nazi’ or ‘German’ camps in occupied Poland, it is a serious mistake for Poland to seek to criminalize those who do not adhere to this practice,” Singer said. “Having spent decades in the field of education, I deeply believe that this must be changed through a campaign of education, not criminalization. Poland’s new law is especially objectionable as it stifles any real confrontation with the most chilling aspect of the country’s wartime history - the extent to which local Poles were complicit in the destruction of their Jewish neighbors.”
“Outstanding Polish scholars have made very clear in their meticulously researched writings that this was hardly an isolated phenomenon. Declaring that such literature is defamatory and that those who have produced it are engaged in criminal activity amounts to a whitewash of the historical record and must be thoroughly rejected,” Singer said. “The passage of this law can only be seen as an act of historical obfuscation and an attack on democracy.”