Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Poland's president signs controversial Holocaust bill

Despite Pressure, Poland's President to Sign Controversial Holocaust Bill Poland's president signs Holocaust bill into law
| 08 February, 2018, 01:08

Although Duda acknowledged that there were individual Poles who committed crimes against Jews and other enemies of Germany at that time, the blame should not include Poland as a nation.

By refusing to veto the bill, Duda dashed the possibility of political negotiations, which Israel and the United States had still hoped for in recent days.

In response to Duda's announcement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that "Israel continues to work with the authorities in Poland and expresses to them Israel's reservations about the Polish bill".

The country has long objected to the use of phrases like "Polish death camps", which suggest the Polish state in some way shared responsibility for camps such as Auschwitz.

On Monday evening, a small group of far-right advocates demonstrated in front of the presidential palace demanding that Duda sign the law. "We understand this law will be referred to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal".

Andrzej Duda said in a televised address the legislation would safeguard Poland's global reputation, but Israel called for amendments, saying the two countries had a "joint responsibility" to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. "On the other hand, my decision takes into account the sensitivity of people for whom the historical truth and the truth about the Holocaust is extremely important".

President Andrzej Duda said he would also ask Poland's constitutional court to evaluate the bill- leaving open the
Polish president signs bill giving jail time for implicating Poland in the Holocaust

As written, the legislation calls for prison terms of up to three years for falsely attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland. However, 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 there is too much room for interpretation", said Agnieszka Markiewicz, the director of the American Jewish Committee's central Europe office.

It excludes those who speak "within the framework of artistic or scientific activity".

Secretary of State Tillerson said that while "terms like "Polish death camps" are painful and misleading", they are best countered through "open debate, scholarship, and education". "A scholar associated with a university might be excluded, but what about a schoolteacher who shares some of the awful stories that happened in Poland?"

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in the U.S., however, said many Polish citizens "were complicit in the crimes against Jews", even as it acknowledged that thousands of Poles also risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors.

"No Polish law will change history, Poland was complicit in the Holocaust", tweeted Israeli politician Yair Lapid, the son of a Holocaust survivor.

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jewish neighbours during the war.


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