Author: John A. Litwinski

The Problem With Poland’s New Holocaust Law

On Tuesday, Poland’s president signed a controversial bill into law allowing punishment of up to 3 years in prison for any person who claims “that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich.” This development has sparked an angry debate, particularly in Poland and Israel, over the tragic history of Poles and Jews during the Second World War. But the new law cannot be understood without an appreciation of the unique context from which it emerged. The following points bear consideration: The 1939-1945 occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany, which organized the worst genocide the world has ever seen. The subsequent 44 years of Communist rule, during which Poles were taught only that they helped Jews during the war and that discussion of contrary facts was forbidden. The opening up of Polish society after 1989, including revelations of cases where Poles persecuted and killed Jews. The careless use of the phrase “Polish death camps” by Western politicians and media to refer to Nazi-run camps like Auschwitz. …