We have accepted the mendacious official Polish narrative, and we have legitimized the campaign to harass, fine and impoverish Polish liberals, academics, journalists and simply honest people who expose Poles’ involvement in the crimes of the Holocaust.
The usual conduct [in occupied Poland] was not to help Jews, but to harm them, and many Poles were involved in the persecution of Jews. Europeans’ cooperation with the Nazi death machine was widespread, of course, not only in Poland. But in other countries, scholars who uncover this can’t be penalized.
The Polish and Israeli governments have reached an agreement on an amendment to the Polish law that states that claiming that Poland as a country, or the Polish people, were responsible for crimes committed by the Nazis is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison. According to the agreement, this criminal aspect was removed.
The Polish government passed the law to begin with to defend its good name against accusations that many Poles took part in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. And who will decide on the historical facts? According to the Poles, it will be the Institute of National Remembrance, which is run by the politicians controlling the country today.
And so according to the law — even after the agreement with Israel — the government will determine what happened in the past via historians in its service, and this narrative cannot be critiqued by historians, independent researchers or others. Is this acceptable to the Israeli government?
“I don’t know what was going on here — ignorance, stupidity or the clear amoral victory of transient interests that will remain with us as an eternal disgrace.”
— Yad Vashem historian Yehuda Bauer
Israel’s official Holocaust memorial center on Thursday issued a stinging critique of a joint statement by the Israeli and Polish prime ministers that was meant to resolve a rift between the countries over a contentious Polish law on the Holocaust.
The Polish law, which made it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust, was amended last week. The two leaders — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki — issued their statement in an effort to put the controversy over the law behind them.
But the memorial center, Yad Vashem, said the statement contained “grave errors and deceptions.”
The new [Polish] law, which criminalizes any researcher who dares publish the truth [about Polish involvement in the Holocaust], is an attempt at historical revisionism. . . . So how is this law any different from the [Israeli] Nakba Law, which would withhold state funds from cultural and educational institutions that commemorate the horrors that befell the Palestinians in 1948?
The responses coming from Israel to the new Polish law, which forbids discussing war crimes committed by the Polish people during the holocaust, are nothing if not paradoxical. While the Israeli establishment, from the Right to the Left, denies the identity, history, and catastrophe of the Palestinian people, it reprimands those who deny responsibility for the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust.
The Holocaust, a monstrous, well-planned genocide, was possible not only because of the Nazis’ nightmarishly meticulous implementation, but also because those who stood aside as it was happening. The Germans had willing accomplices, including many Poles, who took an active part in the persecution and murder. The history books talk about the “hunt for the Jews,” which led to the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, both directly and indirectly, during the Second World War.