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USA 'disappointed' by signing of Holocaust law in Poland

07 February 2018, 01:19 | Myrtle Vega

Poland's President Supports Making Some Holocaust Statements a Crime

The absurdity of Poland's Holocaust law

The United States, a close North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally of Poland, expressed disappointment at Duda's decision.

The US State Department also warned last week that the bill could have "repercussions" on "Poland's strategic interests and relationships - including with the United States and Israel".

The law imposes fines and jail time on anyone calling the Nazi slaughter of Jews during World War II a "Polish crime", or Nazi death camps "Polish death camps".

PiS, a socially conservative, nationalist party that has clashed with the European Union and human rights groups on a range of issues since taking power in late 2015, says the new law is needed to ensure that Poles are recognised as victims, not perpetrators, of Nazi aggression in World War Two.

Speaking at a press conference, Duda explained that the bill was not introduced in defiance of Poland's history but rather in defense of his country's suffering and worldwide reputation.

It has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews to Germans during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

At least 3 million Polish Jews and 1.9 million non-Jewish citizens were killed during the Holocaust, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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"If there is one hope now, it is in the fact that President Duda said he would refer the bill to the Constitutional Tribunal for judicial review", Markiewicz concluded. The legislation provides exemptions for academic research and art.

"I think it's a problem of interpretation, of over-interpretation on the Israeli side", Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said, adding that "we can also imagine some kind of amendment (of the legislation) if our explanations will not be convincing".

"We call on the president of the Republic of Poland to use his constitutional powers and, in conjunction with the Sejm and the Senate of the Republic of Poland, to bring deliberateness, rationality and benevolence back to Ukrainian-Polish relations", the statement reads.

The attitudes towards Israel are constantly improving in Poland and many young people have ahistorical but positive associations with Israel.

"We will certainly talk about our common history soon", Joanna Kopcinska, the spokeswoman, said in a statement sent to Reuters. In a statement released yesterday, Mr Bennett said he "felt honoured" by the cancellation for what he sees is a rewriting of the past.

Some critics of the Polish government believe the bill would fuel anti-Semitism in the country. And among Poles were a nourishing number who helped Jews and opposed tremendous resistance to regime of third Reich.

Poland is the location of several former concentration campus, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 1 million people - nearly all of them Jews - were systematically killed in World War II.



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