20:54 GMT13 April 2021
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    The Polish Senate has passed legislation that criminalized attempts to link Poland with Nazi crimes. The new bill, awaiting approval, stipulates a three-year prison term for people who mention the Polish nation in context of Nazi-committed wrongdoings.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the controversial bill with Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem and the center's chief Nazi hunter. 

    Dr. Efraim Zuroff: We have to divide our discussion into two different sections: one concerns the term 'Polish death camps' which is simply historically inaccurate and the demand by the Poles to refrain from using that term is justified.

    But passing a law isn't necessarily the best way to deal with it. I don't understand how they think they'll implement it.

    But they are correct. The camps were planned and built by the Nazis, operated by the Nazis. Poles did not serve in these camps. The term is completely inaccurate and very insulting, so in that respect they are right.

    The other aspect is the outlawing of the mention of complicity of the Polish state in the crimes of the Holocaust. Here [the argument] is very sensitive and problematic.

    First, the Polish state did not exist during World War Two. The Germans didn't incorporate the Poles into the mechanism of mass annihilation of Jews, unlike the situation in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine and Croatia…where the crimes were carried out without intervention of the Germans.

    Individual Poles played a very important role in the mass murder of Polish Jews by those individuals who informed on them and murdered them. The number of Jews who lost their lives as a result of actions taken by Poles is quite large, no one knows the exact number, but many tens of thousands were murdered by Poles or turned over to the Nazis by Poles.

    The concern here regards research into these aspects of the Holocaust which are important to understand the tragic fate of Polish Jews. Three million were murdered during World War Two.

    READ MORE: Polish Senate Passes Controversial Holocaust Bill that Prompted Israeli Backlash

    The fear is this decision will limit research or whitewash the crimes committed by Poles and individual Poles who served in the nationalist underground, the Armia Krajowa, the military arm of the Polish government.

    They didn't get any instruction to kill Jews but they refused to admit Jews to the underground and in some cases, members of the Armia Krajowa murdered.

    All this is integral part and been documented by reputable Polish historians, from a very important component of the history of the Holocaust. We cannot ignore these crimes and will do anything possible to prevent them from being whitewashed.

    Sputnik: What is their actual goal is in creating this law do you think the President will sign the law?

    Dr. Efraim Zuroff: My impression is, he intends to sign it, and it will be a serious crisis in Israeli-Polish relations and Jewish Polish relations. I can only hope wiser, saner minds will prevail and the bill will not become law and a dialogue can be started to derail it and prevent its implementation.

    Sputnik: Is the wording still questionable?

    Dr. Efraim Zuroff: It's not clear, how far this is going to go, it's clear here is not a desire for a full disclosure of crimes by Poles and we're talking about, a government whose several ministers have expressed doubt about crimes by Poles both during and after the Holocaust, which in my option, make them very suspect.

    READ MORE: Polish President Says He Would Never Allow Poles to be 'Vilified' over Holocaust.

    The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Efraim Zuroff are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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