Poles Told to Report “Anti-Polish Slander” to Diplomats Under New Holocaust Law
A new law passed in Poland has criminalized any statements imply that the country had a role in the Holocaust. Poland’s top senator, Stanislaw Karczewski, urged Poles both at home and abroad to notify diplomats when anyone slanders Poland.
The law, signed on February 6th by Polish President Andrzej Duda, stipulates claims that the Republic of Poland or the Polish nation was responsible for, or participated in, Nazi crimes during the Second World War is punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Additionally, the law permits the Institute of National Remembrance, a state body tasked with establishing an official historical narrative and prosecuting Nazi and Communist-era crimes, will be able to claim compensation from anyone “damaging the reputation” of Poland.
Deputy Marshal of the Senate Karczewski from the Law and Justice party released a letter on the Senate’s website asking Poles living abroad to participate in a wider government campaign to defend the country against slander and defamation from the role. He also appealed to them to record first-hand testimony of WWII crimes from Polish and Jewish witnesses and survivors.
“Please document and react to all anti-Polish hostility expressions and opinions that harm us. Notify our embassies, consulates and honorary consuls of any slander affecting the good reputation of Poland.”
Concerns regarding the restriction of freedom of speech have arisen amidst this new law with critics claiming that it could stifle the truth about the role some Poles played in WWII. Israel has protested its legislation, saying that not only will it curb free speech and criminalize basic historical fact, but it could limit the discussion about the Holocaust and whitewash the role some Poles played during Germany’s occupation from 1939 – 1945. The United States also issued a statement that expressed “disappointment” over the law.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to comment, saying that she did not want to wade into Poland’s internal affairs, but did state in her weekly video podcast the following: “Without directly interfering in the legislation in Poland, I would like to say the following very clearly as German chancellor: We as Germans are responsible for what happened during the Holocaust, the Shoah, under National Socialism.”