Visitors gather on the grounds of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Piotr Kozlowski, the deputy head of Poland's embassy, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday morning to give clarifications of the draft bill that passed the lower house of Poland's parliament on Friday making it illegal to attribute complicity in the Holocaust to the “Polish nation” or to use terms such as “Polish death camps.”
Kozlowski met with Rodica Radian-Gordon, the ministry's deputy director-general for Europe, and Akiva Tor, the head of the Foreign Ministry's bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions.
Following harsh criticism from Israel about the bill, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted in English Saturday night that “Auschwitz is the most bitter lesson on how evil ideologies can lead to hell on earth. Jews, Poles, and all victims should be guardians of the memory of all who were murdered by German Nazis. Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase.”
He also tweeted in Polish that Poland and Israel issued a joint statement following a government-to-government meeting in 2016 saying that both governments “firmly oppose” attempts at “distorting the history of the Jewish or Polish peoples by denying or diminishing the victimhood of the Jews during the Holocaust, or using the erroneous terms of memory such as ‘Polish death camps.’”
Poland's Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki, the author of the bill, tweeted late Saturday night in English in response to the outrage from Jerusalem that the bill is “not against Israel.”
“We criminalize statements such as "Polish death camps" in case where all death camps on Polish soil were German and even German Ambassador in Poland affirms it. The aim of the bill is to properly point out the perpetrators.”
In addition, he tweeted in Polish that “important Israeli politicians and the media are attacking us for the bill… In addition they claim that Poles are co-responsible for the Holocaust.” This, he said, is “proof of how much this bill is needed.”