2018-02-28 / Editorial

Poland must reverse its Holocaust law

The backlash created by Poland’s new law making it illegal to accuse the nation of complicity in crimes committed by Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust, is yielding positive results.

As the Voice went to press, Polish officials announced that a government team was expected to visit Jerusalem this week to reach “an understanding” with Israel over the controversial measure. Moreover, as a result of Israeli pressure, the law will not be implemented before Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal reviews it, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Earlier this month, over fierce objections from historians, the Israeli government and others, Polish President Andrezej Duda signed the legislation making it a crime to say Poland bore any responsibilities for the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. This has strained relations with both Israel and the United States.

While Yad Vashem has honored far more Poles as Righteous Gentiles than citizens of any other nation, the Polish treatment of its Jews, before, during and after the Holocaust, is complicated. While the Germans unquestionably coordinated the widespread Jewish genocide, many Poles participated as collaborators, turning in their Jewish neighbors. An estimated several thousand Jews died at Polish hands during and after the war. The Polish resistance movement often acted to save endangered Jews, but many members of the underground army were known to turn away Jews who sought safety in their ranks.

History has a tendency to repeat itself if one is not free to discuss and learn from it. It is why “Never Again” resonates so strongly still. s

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