Bennett warns Poland he's coming to 'tell the truth'; Poles cancel visit

The plaque

Polish President Andrzej Duda has stated he will sign the so-called "Holocaust bill", which criminalizes statements accusing Poles of complicity in the Holocaust and propaganda of Ukrainian nationalist ideology and refers the legislation to the country's Supreme Court for review.

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 US also lodged an official protest against the bill, saying it "could undermine free speech and academic discourse" and could have "repercussions" for "Poland's strategic interests and relationships - including with the United States and Israel". Some people in Poland believe that the narrative focusing on the Holocaust as a tragedy of the Jewish people sidelines the non-Jewish victims. Millions more Polish Jews, and other non-Jewish, Polish civilians were murdered across the country.

If Duda signs the bill, it will most likely worsen the crisis between Israel and Poland, because the two countries have agreed to establish joint teams to discuss the matter - because of the controversy it has caused.

"It is a sad day for Poland", said Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of AJC's Warsaw-based Central Europe office. 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. For the many Poles and their descendants that risked their lives to help the Jewish people - as indeed is recognised by Yad Vashem in the Righteous Among the Nations where over 25% of the overall honourees are Polish nationals - the use of "Polish death camps" is highly offensive.

More news: Victims' father lunges at Larry Nassar during sentencing hearing

Poland's president says he will sign into law a controversial proposal to outlaw blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust. But the law is expected to take effect before the tribunal would be able to issue any clarifications, and the independence of the tribunal itself has recently been questioned after the Law and Justice Party passed reform plans that critics condemned as an "assault" on the judiciary.

But he said the Polish state bore no responsibility because it ceased to exist following the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in the United States, 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 neighbours.

"Poland can be certain that any distortion of history such as the notion of "Polish concentration camps" will be clearly rejected and firmly condemned". Some of the worst Nazi atrocities were committed on Polish soil.

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