The prime minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, has drawn criticism for saying that Jews were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
Earlier in February, Poland’s Senate had approved a controversial bill that bans any suggestions about the country’s complicity in the Holocaust. The legislation proposes that the description of Nazi concentration camps in Poland as Polish be considered illegal with a penalty of severe fines or a three-year prison sentence.
Morawiecki was questioned by an Israeli journalist if anyone who said there had been Polish collaborators in the Holocaust will be considered a criminal in the country under the new law. “It is extremely important to first understand that, of course, it is not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators – as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian... not only German perpetrators.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked his Polish counterpart for his remarks and described them as “outrageous”. “There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people,” Netanyahu said, according to Reuters. “I intend to speak with him forthwith.”
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there was overwhelming evidence that many Poles had assisted the Nazis and perpetrated their own heinous crimes against Jews during the World War 2. “Any attempt to erase this part of the Holocaust must be fought by all who value truth and seek to ensure that the crimes of that era are never repeated.”
Israeli lawmaker Yair Lapid said Morawiecki’s comment was “anti-Semitism” of the oldest kind. “The perpetrators are not the victims,” Lapid said on Twitter. “The Jewish state will not allow the murdered to be blamed for their own murder.” The legislator also called for Israel’s ambassador to Poland to be recalled.
Nazi Germany had attacked and occupied Poland in 1939, killing millions of its citizens including three million Polish Jews. Six million Jews were killed in the war in total.