Polish President signs into law controversial Holocaust bill

Polish President signs into law controversial Holocaust bill

Polish President signs into law controversial Holocaust bill

Poland's President Andrzej Duda announced Tuesday that he will sign a bill that makes it illegal to implicate the country in the war crimes of Nazi Germany.

Duda said he would also ask the Constitutional Tribunal for a number of clarifications about the bill.

It says that "whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich ... shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years".

The law sparked a diplomatic row with Israel, which believes the bill could threaten academic research of the Holocaust or open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony should it concern the involvement of individual Poles allegedly killing or giving up Jews to the Germans.

"Moreover, it is painful to see Poland, which has made such remarkable strides as a country since the dramatic events of 1989, suddenly in a deep crisis with Israel, a strategic partner; with the Jewish world, which had begun to show so much interest in the country; and, yes, with the United States, an essential ally", Markiewicz continued.

"The historical truth is that the Poles did not take part in the Holocaust in any systematic way", the Polish president's Office quoted Duda as saying. While some states will punish you for denying the Holocaust happened or disputing its historical specifics, Poland will punish those who say the Polish government or people were involved in the extermination of Jews in Poland. Germany operated six camps in Poland where Jews and others whom the Nazis considered enemies were killed.

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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".

The attitudes towards Israel are constantly improving in Poland and many young people have ahistorical but positive associations with Israel. In this regard, the Polish president noted that it is extremely important for him to build good relations between Poland and Israel.

Duda said simultaneously that he would refer the law to Poland's highest court so it can assess whether the new rules are in line with the constitution.

Poland, which had Europe's biggest Jewish population when it was invaded by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of World War Two, became ground zero for the "final solution", Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

"Poland can be certain that any distortion of history such as the notion of "Polish concentration camps" will be clearly rejected and firmly condemned".

Jewish groups in the United States have accused the Polish government of "engaging in denial".

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