The Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) is pictured at the gates of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017..
(photo credit: AGENCY GAZETA/KUBA OCIEPA/VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration expressed "disappointment" on Tuesday in Polish President Andrzej Duda's decision to sign into law a bill that imposes criminal penalties on those attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state.
US Secretary of Defense Rex Tillerson said in a statement that enactment of the law "adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry."
"We understand this law will be referred to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal. Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry," Tillerson said. "The United States reaffirms that terms like 'Polish death camps' are painful and misleading. Such historical inaccuracies affect Poland, our strong ally, and must be combated in ways that protect fundamental freedoms."
But he added: "We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech."
The law has created a diplomatic crisis between Poland and Israel, which strongly opposes the legislation as an attempt to whitewash the complicity of some Poles in the Holocaust.
Days ago, the State Department warned Warsaw that enactment of the law would create diplomatic challenges for Poland.