Polish President Will Sign Holocaust Law
- Author: Megan Austin Feb 07, 2018,
Feb 07, 2018, 1:18
"The United States is disappointed that the president of Poland has signed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
Polish President Andrzej Duda announced Tuesday that he would sign legislation making it a crime to suggest Poland had any responsibility for the Holocaust or any other crimes against humanity.
On February 5, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill. Israel says the law would ban true statements about the role that some Poles played in Nazi crimes.
Duda had called Poland a victim of Nazi terror, saying six million Poles and three million Jews were murdered by the German. The bill was condemned by Israel and the USA, which claimed that Polish leaders are trying to rewrite history.
"After the examination of the situation and of the bill I chose to sign this draft law and in this regard, it will come into force".
What does the bill state?
The law stipulates that anyone who uses the term "Polish death camps" would be subject to a fine or imprisonment.
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The camps were built and operated by Nazi Germany after it invaded Poland in 1939.
It is a lukewarm reaction in comparison to firm condemnation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet members in recent days, which may mean that matter is not closed.
Deputies from across Israel's often fractious political spectrum have united to denounce it. Some of the worst Nazi atrocities were committed on Polish soil. "The government of Poland canceled my visit, because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am signing this bill and, accordingly, Article 55a will come into force", Duda said in a televised statement in Warsaw.
Polish politicians have expressed bafflement at the Israeli response.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says Poland has made an "issue" out of its people's actions during the Holocaust and is denying the truth. But, and it is a significant but, there were acts of anti-Semitism, including murder, by individual Poles, even as both Poles and Jews were targets of the Third Reich. "This truth needs to be protected", he said.
"I think it's a problem of interpretation, of over-interpretation on the Israeli side", Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said, adding that "we can also imagine some kind of amendment (of the legislation) if our explanations will not be convincing".
What happened in Poland in WW2? However, as in all occupied countries re were citizens who collaborated with Nazi regime. If it is enacted, violators could be punished with up to three years in prison. But research published since the fall of communism in 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them to the Nazi occupiers, challenging the national narrative that Poland was exclusively a victim.