Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government swearing-in ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, December 11, 2017..
(photo credit: AGENCJA GAZETA/SLAWOMIR KAMINSKI VIA REUTERS)
Polish MP Michal Kaminski has his “fingers crossed” that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki “is being stupid and not ruthless,” after recent comments and actions regarding Holocaust memory that have upset Jews worldwide, as well as Israeli leaders.
Hours after Morawiecki drew accusations of Holocaust denial, when he said on Saturday that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust “as there were Jewish perpetrators,” he made waves again after paying his respects at the gravesite of fighters from the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, a Polish underground military unit accused of collaborating with Nazis and killing Jews during World War II.
“It is again another huge mistake,” said Kaminski, of the opposition party the Union of European Democrats, the only party which voted against the contentious “death camps law”.
The Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, Kaminski told The Jerusalem Post
, is “the only possible part of Polish resistance who actively collaborated with Germans...and he is visiting their graves and I cannot understand it.”
Addressing Israeli charges that the prime minister’s recent remarks and actions since the law was passed are provocative, Kaminski responded: “It looks like a provocation but I hope it’s not – it’s just stupidity.”
“I deeply believe that both [former prime minister of Poland Jarosław] Kaczynski and Morawiecki are not antisemitic and I think it’s a question of stupidity,” Kaminski said.
“They are not aware of how the world works,” he added, opining that they were “unprepared” for the powerful positions they have filled.
Kaminski is deeply involved in both Polish-Jewish relations and Polish-Israel relations.
“For me, what is going on now is a personal disaster,” he told the Post.
“I deeply believe in the friendship between the Polish and Jewish nations,” he said, adding that the Poles must “tell the truth and apologize” when necessary.
“It is just a very dark moment in our relations that I hope we will overcome because there are a lot of Poles who are pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli who really understand how important it is to have good relations with the Jewish people and what a terrible tragedy happened on our soil – it was not made by the Poles, it was made by the Germans, but unfortunately some Poles helped in the Holocaust and we have to admit it and say sorry – it’s a part of our history,” he asserted.
Kaminski himself drew fire from Jewish groups in 2001 when he said that Poland should not apologize for the Jedwabne pogrom, in which Poles killed hundreds of their Jewish neighbors on July 10, 1941.
“My position is that there were acts of collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet army when the Soviet army came to Poland,” Kaminski said at the time. “It’s a fact. It’s a historical fact... If you are asking the Polish nation to apologize for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologize for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland.”
He has since said that he made a mistake what that statement. “It was wrong,” he told the Post
. “Obviously today I would never use such a wording.”