tiptrot.com April 21, 2018

Polish President Signs Holocaust Language Bill, Drawing Rebuke From US

07 February 2018, 01:15 | Bernice Figueroa

Polish President Signs Holocaust Language Bill, Drawing Rebuke From US

Polish President Signs Holocaust Language Bill, Drawing Rebuke From US

President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday signed into law a controversial Holocaust bill meant to safeguard Poland's image overseas but which has instead triggered an unprecedented diplomatic row with Israel and tensions with the U.S. and Ukraine.

However, Mr Duda said earlier in the day he planned to ask Poland's constitutional court to evaluate the bill, leaving open the possibility it might be amended.

The bill foresees jail terms of up to three years for mentioning the term "Polish death camps" and falsely attributing Nazi German crimes at camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

The Holocaust and the involvement many Europeans had in it is still a controversial issue in most countries.

The son of a Holocaust survivor and Polish history professor Jan Grabowski said, "The Germans were able to mobilize segments of the Polish society to take part in their plan to hunt down the Jews and help them carry out their Final Solution".

The bill criminalizes the denial of crimes committed by "Ukrainian nationalists and members of Ukrainian formations collaborating with the German Third Reich", it said.

The bill, he told Poland's state radio Jedynka, covers accusing Poles as a nation but not "someone who says that somewhere, in some village, some place, a Jewish family or one Jewish person was murdered".

In a televised address, Duda said the legislation would preserve Poland's global reputation and said that artistic and historical research work will not be affected by the law.

The attitudes towards Israel are constantly improving in Poland and many young people have ahistorical but positive associations with Israel.

While "Polish" is nearly always used as a geographic description in that context, Poles feel the phrase cruelly portrays their country as having been in charge of the Nazi-run camps, while in fact Poles made up the largest group of victims after Jews. The law has sparked aggressive disputes within Poland as well as overseas.

Nonetheless, Polish individuals, including fighters in resistance militias, killed thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, according to Holocaust historian Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

"Poland can be certain that any distortion of history such as the notion of "Polish concentration camps" will be clearly rejected and firmly condemned".

Criticising Duda's move, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement: "Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry".

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. Some of the worst Nazi atrocities were committed on Polish soil.

A related row over the bill also pitted Warsaw against Kiev.

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