Yad Vashem invites Polish president to Auschwitz liberation event

Invitation comes two years into Israel-Polish tussle over Holocaust memory.

July 23, 2019 16:10
1 minute read.
An original yellow star (not on general display) is seen at the artifacts department

An original yellow star (not on general display) is seen at the artifacts department of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, ahead of the Israeli annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 10, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Against the background of continuing friction between Israel and Poland over the memory of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem invited Polish President Andrzej Duda to join other world leaders at a major event in January to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that Warsaw has not yet decided whether Duda will attend. Among the world leaders expected to participate are US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The one-day event at Yad Vashem is scheduled for the end of January.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland is organizing a large event of its own at the death camp on the actual day of liberation, January 27, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A similar event was held there on the 70th anniversary, attended by some 300 survivors, a number of world leaders and delegation from some 50 countries.

Israel and Poland have been tussling for the past two years over Holocaust-related issues, beginning in 2017 when legislation was introduced in Poland that would have made it a crime carrying a prison sentence for attributing complicity in the Holocaust to the “Polish nation” or using terms such as “Polish death camps.”

Another diplomatic incident was triggered earlier this year when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted erroneously during a visit to Warsaw as saying that “the Poles cooperated with the Nazis” to kill Jews, when he actually said “Poles,” meaning some Poles.

As a result of that incident, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki canceled at the last minute his participation a week later at a summit in Israel of the Visgrad countries – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The situation was further compounded a few days later when Foreign Minister Israel Katz, on his first day in office, said on television that the Poles “suckle antisemitism from their mothers’ milk.”

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