Wiesenthal Center Denounces Polish Law That Criminalizes Discomfiting Truths About The Holocaust

February 6, 2018

Center officials call the law, “A cowardly surrender to the practitioners of extremist politics.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center officials denounced Polish President Andrzej Duda's (pictured) signing into law an amendment that potentially criminalizes Holocaust survivors and researchers as, “A cowardly surrender to the practitioners of extremist politics."

"The official adoption of this amendment - which calls for a potential three year prison sentence for anyone, anywhere, who is convicted of describing the actions of some Polish collaborators with the Nazis during the Holocaust - is a defamation of Memory and a cowardly surrender to the practitioners of extremist politics in Poland,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Center’s Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda. They continued, “Poland has now turned Holocaust distortion into law and joins those who are attempting to evade any historical responsibility for Holocaust crimes.”

“The debate over this law has unleashed a massive amount of virulent classic anti-Semitism from some members of the political elites, including screeds of an alleged international Jewish lobby that wants to extort money from Poland, assertions that Polish Jewish citizens are traitors, and even claims that the Jews were responsible for the death camps and the murders of Poles and others during the Nazi occupation of Poland. These statements have appeared on various state-controlled media platforms over the past week and are indicative of the emotions that have been publicly unleashed and legitimized by this law,” Rabbis Hier and Cooper added.

Mark Weitzman, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director of Government Affairs who has chaired the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) - of which Poland is a member, concluded, “By officially adopting this amendment, the government of  Poland is the entity that has brought shame on Poland's national honor. We call upon the responsible authorities in Poland to annul this legislation and to immediately act firmly to halt this new wave of anti-Semitism. Until then we urge all countries who were victims of the Nazis and their local collaborators, as well as all those who fought and defeated Hitler to forcefully condemn the government of Poland’s action.”

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).