Prison Time For Saying Polish Death Camps?
If lawmakers in Poland have their way, suggestions of any complicity by Poland in the Holocaust on its soil during World War II — such as the mere mention of “Polish death camps” as an example — will result in as much as three years in prison to those who violate the proposed law.
Prison Time For Saying Polish Death Camps?
The draft legislation was approved by lawmakers in Poland on Thursday, January 28, 2018 — despite vociferous criticism from Israel and the United States.
Saying the phrase “Polish death camps” implies that Poland was at least partially responsible in the movement by Nazi Germany — which erected concentration camps such as Auschwitz — towards the ultimate goal of the eradication of the Jewish population in that country. Scientific research pertaining to World War II and other sources of factual information would not be constrained under the proposed law.
“Poland, which has gone through a painful public debate in recent years after the publication of research showing some Poles participated in the Nazi atrocities, has long sought to discourage use of the term ‘Polish camps’ to refer to Nazi camps on its territory, arguing that the phrase implies complicity”, according to this article written by Lidia Kelly and Anna Wlodarczak for Reuters. “Poland is seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism over pending legislation that would impose jail terms for suggestions that the nation was complicit in the Holocaust, local minority groups warned, as pressure mounts on the president to veto the bill.”
Benjamin Netanyahu — who is the current prime minister of Israel — is one of the people who believes that the government of Poland is attempting to rewrite history.
Here is the official translation of Poland's law against acknowledging Polish complicity in the Holocaust. It does not just bar the phrase "Polish death camps." It is clearly designed to chill any discussion of Poland's involvement in the murder of its Jews. pic.twitter.com/SgdOvIkHFB
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) January 28, 2018
I utterly condemn the new Polish law which tries to deny Polish complicity in the Holocaust. It was conceived in Germany but hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered without ever meeting a German soldier. There were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that.
— יאיר לפיד (@yairlapid) January 27, 2018
Yes, the death camps in Poland were made & run by Nazis.But my grandparents whose spouses and children were murdered spoke more bitterly about their Polish neighbors who turned on them and turned them in, than Germans. Nazis wouldn't have succeeded as they did without Polish help
— shoshanna k jaskoll (@skjask) January 28, 2018
…but there are those who say that the concentration camps were constructed by Nazi Germany and not Poland:
They were German death camps build on occupied soil. Run by Germans. Poles was victims there too. How are they Polish. Can you explain?
— Marcin Makowski (@makowski_m) January 27, 2018
I can understand why members of the government of Poland would attempt to absolve the nation from any responsibility in the murders of approximately six million Jewish people — 3.2 million of them who were citizens of that country; not to mention the 1.9 million Polish citizens who were not Jewish — with the argument that Poland was unwillingly occupied by an aggressor which constructed the concentration camps and ordered the heinous crimes against humanity to be implemented on their soil…
…but that is if Poland indeed had no complicity whatsoever in the outcomes of one of the darkest periods of the history of mankind.
Regardless, does the proposed law infringe upon free speech in general — and is it an attempt at overkill by members of the government in Poland? Would this politician from the United States have been arrested for what he said in a video he recorded while visiting Auschwitz?
I still have trip reports to write of my visit to Auschwitz last year — I personally encourage a visit there — but in the meantime, please read the following articles which I have already written of my visit:
- Gas Chamber I and Incinerator Room at Auschwitz
- “Your Mother Went Up in the Smoke”: A Sad Short Story From Auschwitz
All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.