What’s Behind the New Polish Anti-Semitism?

Appearing at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki was questioned by an Israeli journalist who told of his mother’s narrow escape from the Gestapo in Poland after learning that neighbors were planning to denounce them. Then referring to the new Polish Law making it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in Nazi crimes. The Journalist asked if he told that story in Poland would he be a criminal?

Morawiecki responded: “It’s not going to punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukraine and German perpetrators” (emphasis mine).

Jewish perpetrators? That’s new. Well, perhaps not in Poland. Despite the what the government claims Poland remains one of the most anti-Semitic countries in the world.

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Not the least example is the new Polish law which denies the truth and makes it illegal for people to claim that “the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich.” The law carries with it a possible prison sentence of up to three years. The Polish parliament passed the law last month, on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Per a report by the Associated Press the debate over the new law has increased Antisemitism in Poland:

“A conservative party, Law and Justice, won power in Poland vowing to restore national greatness while also stressing an anti-Muslim, anti-migrant message. Jews – whose presence in Poland goes back centuries – were increasingly the targets of verbal hate on social media.”

“Matters escalated a few weeks ago when Israeli officials sharply criticized new Polish legislation that criminalizes blaming Poland as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. They accused Poland of seeking to use the law to whitewash the role of the Poles who helped Germans kill Jews during the war.”

Not all Poles helped the Nazis kill Jews during the Holocaust but too many did.There are accusations that the people who lived close to Auschwitz and other death camps in Poland had to know what was going on, at the very least had to smell the stench of death, but those accusations cannot be proven.

What can be proven were the times Poles, joyfully joined in on killing Jews such as the massacre in the town of Jedwabne in summer 1941, where approximately 1,600 Polish Jews were locked in a barn by their neighbors and the barn was set on fire.  Or the pogrom in May 1942, non-Jewish residents of the town Gniewczyna Łańcucka held hostage some two to three dozen local Jews. Over the course of several days, they tortured and raped their hostages before finally murdering them. The Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw estimates that as many as 200,000 Jews died at the hands of Poles, or because Poles identified them as Jewish to the Nazis, during the war.

On the other hand, the Polish Government in exile tried to help the Jews in their country, they were also one of the first to warn the world of Hitler’s Final Solution.  But to say Poland was blameless is absurd as saying all Poles were collaborators…


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