History will judge Poland for complicity in the Holocaust and its denial attempts

Poland should know this: By passing this law, history will judge it twice – both for complicity in the crimes, and for institutional attempts to deny them.

By ITZIK SHMULI
March 1, 2018 22:29
3 minute read.
YOUTHS STAND among stones at Treblinka Nazi Death Camp memorial.

YOUTHS STAND among stones at Treblinka Nazi Death Camp memorial.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Just as we thought we had seen everything from the Polish government, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki introduced us to an upside down world. Upside down and infuriating: “There were Polish collaborators just as there were Jewish collaborators,” he argued outrageously.

We have entered yet another phase in the Polish government’s project to erase the crimes of its people. Blame is now being hurled at the Jews, suggesting that they were perpetrators in the mass slaughter of their own brethren whereas the Poles are disingenuously presented as mere victims of circumstance.

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It is at this juncture that we should remind ourselves of the Polish law that says any recognition of Poland’s complicity, or the suggestion that Polish people acted on behalf of the Nazis, or even committed crimes during the Holocaust, will be seen to be guilty of a legal misdemeanor.

Moreover, it says that any person who publicly accuses the Polish nation of guilt or joint responsibility for crimes committed against humanity and/or against the Jewish people is committing a criminal offense punishable with a three-year prison term.

Free speech has been stifled by the Polish legislature, both for Polish citizens and for citizens of the entire world.

Holocaust survivors, tour guides to Poland and researchers at Yad Vashem will not be able to give witness, teach the next generation or leave testament for historical research.

Semantics has no place here, as the extermination camps were indeed German, and the sophisticated killing factories were purposely built by Germany; however, a part of the Polish people lost its humanity and actively complied with or instigated the horrors.

Many Poles heard, knew, betrayed and actively participated in the extermination, and we will not allow them to hide behind Nazi crimes.

True, there were others, including some 7,000 Polish Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews, but because the reality was complex, there is no logic or morality in the passing of a law that imposes its theory in a simplistic, partial and even false manner.

The Polish Senate has granted Poland the dubious and despicable gift of being the first country to uphold a law of Holocaust denial, but the blurring of history and the attempt to escape examining and investigating dark chapters in the past will not help any nation prevent the next human tragedy.

FROM NOW ON, history will judge Poland twice – for complicity in the heinous crime of the Holocaust and also for a shameful attempt to deny its existence The power of truth can prevail, however, and no law can silence the Holocaust survivors; no law will silence or hide the countless chilling testimonies from Auschwitz, Treblinka, Chelmno, and the other camps and death pits where millions of Jews were massacred through no fault of their own. Polish soil is soaked with blood and contaminated with the poison of the Polish souls who aided and abetted and sometimes instigated those actions.

Fascist Poland today chooses a false and belligerent path, and from here on Israel must draw two conclusions: No one has the right to compromise the memory of the past for the political interests of the present, and a broad diplomatic attack is necessary to demonstrate to Poland the gravity and folly of its actions.

Therefore, I will mention the law that I have submitted, together with the cross-parliamentary support of another 75 MKs, which states that denying or blurring the role of Nazi collaborators is to be viewed as the criminal offense of Holocaust denial.

Moreover, it is my opinion that Israeli rightwing parties and politicians must immediately stop their dangerous flirtation with nationalist, fascist and antisemitic political parties and politicians around the world as part of a misguided belief that a shared fear and hatred of common enemies will be ultimately beneficial to Israel’s cause.

Those who see others as inferior will, sooner or later, become inferior themselves, and we do not share those values.

Poland should know this: By passing this law, history will judge it twice – both for complicity in the crimes, and for institutional attempts to deny them.

The writer is the chairman for the Holocaust and Pensioners Caucus in the Knesset.


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