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Polish anti-defamation law aims to ‘protect truth about WWII’: PM

A contested new law which criminalises blaming Poland for Nazi German atrocities aims “to protect the truth about World War II and about those who were truly responsible for it,” the Polish prime minister has said.

In an opinion piece for the influential US Foreign Policy magazine, Mateusz Morawiecki said that attributing complicity in the Holocaust to Poland blurs the responsibility of Nazi Germany.

The new Polish anti-defamation law, which could impose a jail term on anyone who accuses the country of being complicit in Nazi German crimes, triggered anger in Israel and a warning from the United States.

In Poland, the new rules are seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps,” which many say implies the country’s involvement in the Holocaust.

Freedom of research

Writing for Foreign Policy magazine, Morawiecki said: “Our bill has never been intended to deny the right of people who survived the Holocaust to speak about their personal tragedies or to limit any kind of freedom of research or artistic freedom.”

Morawiecki pointed out that Poland never created a government that collaborated with the Third Reich and never formed an SS division.

Instead, when the Holocaust started, Poland’s government-in-exile “endeavored to make the world hear about the tragedy of the Polish Jews and to convince the Allies to undertake appropriate action,” he added.

The Polish Underground State “not only created an organized platform to help Jews called the Polish Council to Aid Jews,” but also punished by death those who helped Germans in murdering Jews, he continued.

Punishable by death

“And even as the Nazi Germans made it punishable by death to hide or assist Jews, many Polish families engaged in this noble, and indeed heroic, enterprise.”

Morawiecki acknowledged that there were “individual cases of Poles who collaborated with the Nazi Germans, as well as those who murdered Jews and other innocent people.”

He added: “We must bear in mind, however, that each of these heinous crimes should be judged individually and that individual acts of wickedness should not burden with responsibility the entire nation, which was conquered and enslaved by Nazi Germany.”

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