Conference of Presidents Leaders Urge Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Prevent Passage of Law Making It a Crime in Poland to Say Poland or Polish Citizens Have Responsibility for Holocaust Crimes

New York, NY. . . Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today wrote to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland expressing deep concern over legislation passed on Friday by the lower house of the Polish Parliament that would make it a crime in Poland to comment on the culpability of some Poles in the despicable crimes against the Jewish people and millions of others during the Holocaust.  In their letter to Prime Minister Morawiecki, the leaders noted that Polish efforts to counter the misrepresentation of historical facts such as describing the extermination camps set up by the Nazi occupying forces as “Polish death camps”, is justified and have been supported by the American Jewish community. 

Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, of the Conference of Presidents, said, “We strongly oppose the misguided criminalization of statements about the responsibility of Poles who actively participated in the atrocities perpetrated on Polish soil during the Nazi occupation of Poland.  It is appalling that the lower house of the Parliament took this step just one day before the annual global commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance.   

This measure is likely to stoke an equally objectionable distortion of history by stifling legitimate commentary on the established fact that some Poles actively participated in the despicable crimes against the Jewish people and millions of others during the Holocaust.  Just as attention should be drawn to the lessons of the heroic deeds of those Poles who acted to save the lives of Jewish and other victims, there must also be robust discussion of the lessons to be learned from the acts of those in Polish society who took part in the systematic destruction of Jewish life in Poland.

The silence of Poland’s current leaders on this issue stands in stark contrast to the clear acknowledgement of Austrian accountability by the current Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, who said yesterday "Austrians were also actors and were associated with atrocious crimes of the Holocaust. We bear a clear historic responsibility that the new government clearly recognizes."

In our letter to Prime Minister Morawiecki we called on him to stop the current legislation from moving forward and to seek appropriate alternative approaches to the legitimate issues of historical accuracy about Poland and the Polish people during the horrors of the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust.”

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern

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