Tillerson: US disappointed at Poland signing Holocaust bill

Adjust Comment Print

On Tuesday, President Andrzej Duda signed the controversial bill into law, which also bans people from referring to concentration camps as "Polish death camps".

He also noted that the changes introduced were not a new law and that they had been discussed during the year, including with Israel. Such historical inaccuracies affect Poland, our strong ally, and must be combatted in ways that protect fundamental freedoms. But many Poles all over their country informed, handed over or participated themselves in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterward", the statement also said, adding: "Only a few thousand "Righteous Among the Nations" risked their lives to save them. Activists say the passage of the bill has encouraged a rise in anti-Semitism. The bill, whose debate in parliament coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day in Poland and other European lands, is interpreted by many Jews as an endorsement of the kind of Holocaust denial that Bloch's lifelong work opposed.

Jews from across the continent were sent to be killed at death camps built and operated by Germans in occupied Poland - home to Europe's biggest Jewish community at the time - including Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor. Nevertheless, Duda already signed the bill into law, and it would take effect within the next two weeks, before the tribunal would be able to issue any clarifications.


Acknowledging the concerns of Israel, the United States and Holocaust scholars, President Andrzej Duda said he would ask the country's constitutional court to review the law, leaving open the possibility it could be amended.

Israel and the United States have both condemned Poland's new law. "One can not change history, and the Holocaust can not be denied", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement last week.

"The government of Poland canceled my visit, because I mentioned the crimes of its people".


While "Polish" is nearly always used as a geographic description in that context, Poles feel the phrase cruelly portrays their country as having been in charge of the Nazi-run camps, while in fact Poles made up the largest group of victims after Jews.

The legislation, which comes at a time of electoral gains for anti-immigrant parties like PiS across Europe, has reopened a painful debate in Poland over the Holocaust.

Israel has expressed its disappointment with the move, saying the law would curb free speech and whitewash the Poles' roles in the WWII.


The law also makes it illegal to deny the deaths of about 100,000 Poles who were murdered by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II, which has been a topic of tension between the two countries.

Comments