Polish President Says Will Sign Holocaust Law
- Author: Rogelio Becker Feb 07, 2018,
Feb 07, 2018, 1:00
Duda also said he would send the measure to the Constitutional Tribunal for clarifications on whether it conformed with laws on freedom of speech. The United States also strongly opposed the legislation, saying it could hurt Poland's strategic relations with Israel and the U.S.
The legislation proposed by Poland's conservative ruling party has sparked a bitter dispute with Israel, which says it will infringe on free speech about the Holocaust.
The current Polish government is guilty of believing that you can legislate in too many areas of social life and that you can force people to be historically accurate; this is likely to be a gross misstep.
Poland's government has argued that it is fighting against the use of phrases like "Polish death camps" to refer to the camps Nazi Germany operated on Polish soil.
Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchol said it was wrong to suggest the bill would stop people researching Polish history.
Other Israeli government officials said the bill amounted to Holocaust denialism.
Minister Bennett has been one of the most vocal critics of the new Polish law, and reacted instructing the Education Ministry to start teaching about the role of local European populations during the Holocaust.
Neumann, head of the party's parliamentary caucus, also described the constitutional court as a body without independence that will rule as the governing party wants. After analyzing the situation and the bill, I have decided that I will sign it.
Jan Grabowski, a historian at the University of Ottawa in Canada who studies Polish violence against Jews during the war, called Duda's signing of the law "further proof that the nationalists now in power in Poland will do anything to cater to the hard, right-wing core of their electorate".
At least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish citizens were killed by the Nazis as well.
Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the law, saying it is an attempt to rewrite history.
Earlier on Monday, Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill, which Israeli officials have said amounts to Holocaust denial. "No legislation will change the past", added Bennett. The law targets a geographical shorthand, sometimes used overseas, for the extermination camps that the Nazis established on Polish territory during the Second World War.
Bennett pointed out that although the death camps were indeed "built and operated by the Germans, and we can not allow them to evade responsibility for these actions", nevertheless, he noted that many Polish people, all over the country, "chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust". But research published since the fall of communism in 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them to the Nazi occupiers, challenging the national narrative that Poland was exclusively a victim.