Holocaust survivors enter Auschwitz 73 years after its liberation on Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 2018.
(photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL / REUTERS)
Stanislaw Karczewski, Poland's Senate Speaker, sent a letter to Poles living abroad charging them "to demand the historical truth" by documenting "all manifestations of anti-Polonism, expressions and opinions that harm us."
The letter, published Thursday on the Polish Senate's website, with an accompanying version in English, claims, "it is high time for Poland, independent for 29 years, to stand up for the sake of historical truth," and calls on Polish people around the world to "undertake every possible action to demand the historical truth."
Karczweski recounts the recent law passed in the Polish Senate outlawing the term 'Polish death camps'
or any insinuation that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust, punishable by fines or imprisonment of up to three years. The law has been lambasted by Jewish and Israeli groups, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, noting the law is a form of Holocaust denial.
The United States joined its ally in condeming the move, as the Trump administration expressed its "disappointment" in the law, which it claims will stifle freedom of speech and academic exploration.
The letter claims that Poland "suffered unprecedented loss" [sic] in the deaths of six million Poles and loss of territory and that Poland was the only country in which helping Jews was "punishable by death for the whole family."
After World War II, "we had no influence on shaping international public opinion, we could not defend ourselves against slander," Karcweski wrote.
"Please, document and react to all manifestations of anti-Polonism, expressions and opinions that harm us. Notify our embassies, consulates and honorary consuls of any slander affecting the good reputation of Poland," Karcweski requests in the letter.
"I believe that your action will be an effective tool in efforts to maintain the good reputation of Poland and Poles," the letter closes.
Almost immediately, the letter was chastised by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid on Twitter.
"If Poland wants to protect its name, it should respect the memory of the Holocaust instead of trying to evade responsibility. The call by the Polish senate today is revisionism and it is disgraceful."
In late January, 61 members of Knesset from across the coalition backed a bill accusing Poland of Holocaust denial.
Israel urges Poland to change bill regarding its role in Nazi Holocaust, January 28, 2018 (Reuters)