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Poland to pass law to deny Polish involvement in Holocaust

07 February 2018

Israel's Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari said Monday that after Poland's Senate adopted the bill last Thursday she "had signals" she may be withdrawn.

Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, announced that he would sign a highly controversial bill Tuesday that would ban most Holocaust accusations against Poles as well as descriptions of Nazi death camps as Polish - likely raising tensions with the United States and Israel, which have criticized the measure. This is true both among the multitudes who observe each year the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by wearing yellow daffodils on their lapels, and in all likelihood includes others like Polish President Andrzej Duda, whose wife is the daughter of a well-known Jewish writer - despite the fact that he is closely associated with Law and Justice (known as PiS, the abbreviation for its name in Polish), the party now in power and which passed the bill.

The law imposes fines and jail time on anyone calling the Nazi slaughter of Jews during World War II a "Polish crime", or Nazi death camps "Polish death camps".

Israel's Foreign Ministry responded to the news of Duda's approval Tuesday, expressing hope that the constitutional review would result in "changes and corrections".

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On Monday, the Polish government nixed a planned visit to the country by Israel's education minister Naftali Bennett who had vowed to tell "the truth" about Warsaw's complicity in Nazi crimes.

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jewish neighbours during the war. However Poland's government spokeswoman said there would be no such visit.

Efraim Zuroff, another Holocaust historian who serves as the Eastern Europe director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that large swaths of the population either directly killed or else gave up their Jewish neighbors' whereabouts to the Nazis.

Poland's president says he will sign into law a controversial proposal to outlaw blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.

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Polish President Andrzej Duda signed and finalized a law limiting rhetoric about the Holocaust, leading to a rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Israeli government has taken the position that while it is true that the Germans ran everything in Poland during World War II, this legislation could put a damper on Holocaust research as well as help cover up the role of many Poles in the persecution and murder of Jews.

But Duda and other Polish leaders insist the law does not limit freedom of speech on Holocaust issues that are based in historical fact.

The bill's worldwide critics - which include the U.S. State Department and the Israeli government - argue that it violates freedom of expression.

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According to figures from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis also killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians.

Poland to pass law to deny Polish involvement in Holocaust