Polish PM: Tension between Poland and Israel deeply saddens me

Morawiecki: Holocaust was a German-organized genocide on European Jews which Polish state institutions fought against.

March 4, 2018 18:56
2 minute read.
POLAND’S PRIME Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

POLAND’S PRIME Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. (photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)


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Saying tensions between Poland and Israel “deeply saddens” him, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called his country a firm ally of Israel.

“Amid the rising wave of antisemitism in Europe, our country is again the safe haven for the Jewish community – as it was throughout the eight centuries before World War II,” Morawiecki recently wrote to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in a letter made available to The Jerusalem Post.

“I would like to assure you that I will do my best to improve our relations and put importance on our common history of living and, unfortunately, enormous suffering, on Polish soil. Both Poland and Israel have the moral obligation to be the guardians of the truth of Holocaust because of their history.”

Morawiecki was writing in response to a column in the Post by Boteach offering to mediate between Poland and Israel in the current dispute over Poland’s new legislation that would make it illegal to suggest Poland bore any responsibility for Nazi atrocities committed on its soil. As Poland’s finance minister, Morawiecki had visited Boteach last year in the US. The Polish prime minister agreed to let Boteach make the letter public.

Morawiecki wrote to Boteach that the legislation was not aimed at preventing discussion of Poland’s involvement in the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust was a German-organized genocide on European Jews against which the legal Polish state institutions fought against – both on emigration in London and in occupied Poland. Anyone who helped German Nazis to kill Jews was a criminal and was subject to a death punishment by the Polish underground forces. This bill is supposed to protect this truth, as it is an important part of the truth of the Holocaust,” he wrote.

Morawiecki highlighted that “no Jewish family, none of our Jewish brothers and sisters, could be saved during the Shoah [Holocaust] without some form of help from Polish families, from Polish neighbors.”

“If we consider that only around 300,000 Jews (i.e. 10% of their population in Poland) were saved from the Holocaust, then for everyone who fairly analyses the circumstances of World War it must be clear that several times more of Poles were involved in rescuing them... Despite the sacrifices that millions of Poles made during World War II, they are still being mistaken with the accomplices of Germans (who are frequently being labeled simply as ‘the Nazis’ without pointing to their nationality – contrary to Poles) – and it happens too often. In recent years, Polish authorities had to intervene 1300 times when phrases [such] as ‘Polish camps,’ ‘Polish gas chambers’ or similar were publicly mentioned worldwide.”

He added that international experts agree that using terms as “Polish concentration/death camp” amounts to a distortion of the historical truth of the Holocaust. “And the phrase ‘polish death camps’ itself is only a part of a much larger problem of blaming Poland for German Nazi crimes.”

Boteach told the Post that he had been invited to Poland by Morawiecki to help mediate the issue and had accepted the invitation.

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