Polish lawmakers approved a bill that would impose jail terms for suggesting that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust, a move that has drawn concern from the United States and outrage from Israel, which denounced – what it termed as – “any attempt to challenge historical truth.” Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party announced that the bill is needed to protect Poland’s reputation and ensure historians recognize that Poles, as well as Jews, perished under German Nazi occupation. That is why, the bill would impose three years prison sentences for mentioning the term “Polish death camps,” although it says scientific research into World War Two would not be constrained. The Polish Prime Minister explained that while his government condemns all the crimes of the Second World War committed on Polish soil, regardless of the nationality of their perpetrators and to which nation the victims belonged, Warsaw will fight against, what he defined as “false claims about the participation of the Polish state in the German war machine.” He said, “The Polish state and Poles take care that the German concentration camps can survive as a testimony to the martyrdom of the nations, for the memory of those who were murdered and for the living’s caution. Fighting against false claims about the participation of the Polish state in the German war machine, Poland stands on the side of the truth. Dear compatriots, the Holocaust was also an unimaginable Polish tragedy. Among the six million Polish citizens who died during the Second World War, three million people came from the Polish Jews community,” PM Mateusz Morawiecki said in a televised statement.
Israel announced in response that it “adamantly opposes” the Polish legislation, with Israeli lawmakers sending a clear message to their Polish counterparts that “no bill can rewrite history.” Knesset Member Yair Lapid said, “No bill can rewrite history. Poles were accomplices to the Holocaust, Poles snitched on Jews, Poles participated in the Nazi killing machine. And trying to write a bill now that says otherwise, is just an example to the fact that anti-Semitism today lives and burn within modern Poland. And we’re going to object to it in any way possible,” the Chairman of the Yesh Atid faction, who is the son of late Israeli Minister Tomi Lapid who was a holocaust survivor, said.
In addition to Israel’s anger, the European Commission told Warsaw that all Nazi-occupied countries had collaborators. Nevertheless, the EU commission emphasized that it also viewed the Nazi regime as bearing full responsibility for the death camps on polish soil, which were established and operated only after the 1939 invasion of Poland.