Holocaust researcher files libel lawsuit after accused of falsifying history

Professor Jan Grabowski of the University of Ottawa filed a lawsuit for libel against the Polish League Against Defamation on Thursday at the District Court in Warsaw.

By KATARZYNA MARKUSZ / JTA
November 19, 2018 09:12
2 minute read.
THE PERIMETER fence of Auschwitz II-Birkenau is enveloped in a thick evening fog during the ceremoni

THE PERIMETER fence of Auschwitz II-Birkenau is enveloped in a thick evening fog during the ceremonies marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the camp and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, near Oswiecim, Poland, January 2018. (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)

 
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WARSAW, Poland — A historian and Holocaust researcher has filed a lawsuit against a Polish organization for libel after it publicly accused him of ruining Poland’s good name and charging that his Holocaust research falsifies the history of Poland.

Professor Jan Grabowski of the University of Ottawa filed a lawsuit for libel against the Polish League Against Defamation on Thursday at the District Court in Warsaw.

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The historian’s lawsuit proposes that each person who in June 2017 signed a defamatory statement published by the organization, purchase and donate to one Polish high school a copy of the book “Night Without an End. Fate of Jews in selected counties of occupied Poland.”

The Polish League Against Defamation on June 7, 2017, published a statement condemning Grabowski. It was signed by 134 people and circulated, among others, to authorities of the University of Ottawa. It is in this document that statements were made that libel the Polish-Canadian historian, according to the lawsuit.

Lawyers representing Grabowski say that the letter called into question confidence in the scientific reliability and in the historian’s scientific knowledge, and that “the goal of the organization was to discredit him in the eyes of the scientific community.”

The League’s statement pointed to the professor’s allegedly “slanderous and unfavorable attitude towards Poland and Poles,”  expressed through his publishing of results of his research into the Holocaust and the crimes committed by Poles against Jews during World War II. The statement suggested that Grabowski’s research is anti-Polish, which in the organization’s opinion directly violates not only his academic reputation, but also his national pride.


According to the League’s statement “Grabowski does not follow the basic principles of researcher reliability,” “builds propaganda constructions,” “eliminates key facts,” and “[his work] has nothing to do with professional research.”

Grabowski notes that no one who signed the League’s statement is a professional dealing with the history of the Holocaust.

The goal of the Polish League Against Defamation is to “straighten out false information about Polish history.” Its president is Maciej Swirski – until recently the vice-president of the Polish National Foundation founded by Poland’s right-wing government.

Grabowski is a historian at the University of Ottawa, co-founder of the Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw, and author and editor of numerous publications about the Holocaust. His book “Judenjagd. Hunting for Jews” in 2014 received the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research.

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