Polish president indicators Holocaust regulation regardless of protests by Israel, US & Ukraine

Feb 09, 2018, 01:56
Polish president indicators Holocaust regulation regardless of protests by Israel, US & Ukraine

The office of Polish President Andrzej Duda said the leader will on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 announce his decision on whether to sign legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda has signed into law legislation that outlaws blaming Poles for the Holocaust committed on Polish territory by Nazi Germany.

The Washington, DC-based museum said some Polish agencies, including the police force and railway personnel, played a role in the deportation and sending of Jews to the death camps.

The Polish law would impose prison sentences of up to three years for using the phrase "Polish death camps" and for suggesting "publicly and against the facts" that the Polish nation or state was complicit in Nazi Germany's crimes.

Duda said he would ask the country's Constitutional Tribunal to review the bill to ensure it doesn't infringe on freedom of speech. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the law "adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry". "We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech", he added.

Israel said it still hoped Poland would make amendments.

Israeli legislators have in response drafted a bill that would offer support to any Holocaust survivors or educators prosecuted under the new Polish law.

The worldwide criticism follows the cancellation by Poland of an intended visit by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who vowed to tell "the truth" about Warsaw's complicity in the Holocaust.

More than three million of Poland's 3.2 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of the Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The US State Department warned last week that the bill could have "repercussions" on "Poland's strategic interests and relationships - including with the United States and Israel".

In November, the Polish League Against Defamation urged expat Poles to help "defend Poland's good name" by tracking and opposing media references to concentration camps that suggest a Polish role in Nazi crimes during World War II.

Poland is governed by a nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS), which is keen to show the world how Poland was victimised by its German and Soviet neighbours in the war.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the government of Poland has cancelled the minister's scheduled visit to Warsaw this week after Bennett pledged to use the visit to "make it clear" that Polish complicity in the Holocaust was an historical fact that can not be erased. Once in effect, it will essentially ban accusations that some Poles were complicit in Nazi crimes committed on Polish soil, including in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, where more than 1.1 million people died.

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