Monday, January 23, 2017

Poland: President Duda says Jews are safer in Poland than in Western Europe, denies responsibility for Holocaust crimes

Read also Professor Deborah Lipstadt's article on the subject of Poland v. German antisemitism: An enduring myth: "The Poles were worse than the Nazis"

Via European Jewish Press:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his wife, Sara, host Polish President Andrzej Duda (second from right) and his wife, Agata Kornhauser, at the president's residence in Jerusalem. Picture from GPO
Jews are safer in Poland than in Western Europe. Unlike in France or other parts of Western Europe, Jews can freely walk around openly wearing religious garb, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday in Jerusalem where he was on a state visit to Israel. 
He spoke at a forum in Jerusalem jointly organized by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR), which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, and the Polish Institute of International Affairs. 
Duda said: “I say it loud and clear here and in Poland: We also have painful memories but it was not we who invaded Poland in 1939, it was not we who planned the Holocaust, and it was not we who built the death camps on our own territory.” At the same time, Duda denied his country’s collective guilt for the atrocities of the Holocaust, saying Poles also suffered under the Nazi regime. 
Asked by ICFR Board member and distinguished Israeli scholar Shlomo Avineri whether Poland was not resorting to legislative measures to stifle academic discourse, particularly where research on Poland's wartime history was concerned, the president answered: 
"Historical truth is as it is. It is not always pleasant, and that is true for the Polish nation as well."We do not want to prosecute those who are conducting scholarly research but rather those who, in the wider world, promulgate lies defaming my country, my compatriots and me," he added, referring to a bill currently under discussion in Poland. He said no final decision about the law had been taken yet. 
President Duda defended recently passed legislation that criminalizes the use of the phrase “Polish death camps” in reference to Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland. He said the world should not refer to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec, Sobibór or Chełmno as Polish concentration camps. 
“They were not Polish camps. This absurd name refers only to geography,” he said. 
“How would you feel if a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv was called ‘an Israeli attack’? How would the Japanese feel if the Hiroshima atomic bomb was referred to as ‘a Japanese nuclear attack’? It is a historical distortion.”
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