The Polish Parliament chose on Friday, January 27 2018, date of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to approve a law prohibiting any communication suggesting a link between Poland and the Nazis crime made on its territory during the Second World War. According to this new legislation, using terms such as “polish death camp” can result in a prison sentence.
In May 2002, Polish politicians and personalities called for an apology from President Barack Obama for having designated “Polish death camp” the exterminations camps built by Nazi Germany in the occupied Poland, during a ceremony at the White House in posthumous tribute to Jan Karski, former Polish officer who provided the Westerners with testimonies on the Nazi policy extermination of the Jews.
In answer to many criticisms, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieci affirmed “Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name and Arbeit macht frei is not a Polish expression” supporting the thesis that the use of term “Polish death camp” gives a distorted impression that Poland is responsible for the Shoah.
The President of B’nai B’rith Europe, Serge Dahan, quoting Albert Camus “To call things by incorrect names is to add to the world’s misery” is indignant and condemns this legal text which he considers as a new attempt at rewriting history.
For Yad Vashem this text “is liable to blur the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust.”
Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, recalled a statement Poland’s then-President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who in 2000 told the Israeli parliament that “one cannot fake history, one cannot rewrite it, one cannot hide the truth. Every crime, every offence must be condemned, denounced, must be examined and exposed.”
B’nai B’rith Europe emphasizes that if it is true that the death camps were built in Poland whereas Poland was under Nazi occupation, a rewriting of the history which would seek to deny complicities in the crimes, committed against the Jews on the Polish territory during the Second World War, is intolerable in the name of the truth and is an insult in memory of victims of the Shoah.
To come into effect, this text must be voted by the Senate and signed by the Polish President, therefore B’nai B’rith Europe requires from the Polish government to modify this bill before its definitive adoption.
The President of B’nai B’rith Europe, Serge Dahan, asks from all B’nai B’rith Europe representatives to quickly meet Polish ambassadors in their countries of origin to spread the position of B’nai B’rith Europe which denounces this government bill and which requires from the Polish government to amend this law before its definitive adoption.