The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

Report: Poland’s official antisemitism

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By Dr.
Inna Rogatchi


official racist and antisemitic policy of the current Polish government calls
for full-weight all-spectrum sanctions against Poland in the diplomatic,
humanitarian, educational, cultural, trade and military spheres.


year of the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the day on which
Israel and many Jewish communities worldwide commemorate as Yom Hashoah, the
Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, has begun with a sobering show of
Poland’s’ official antisemitism.


is a list, including only the official measures undertaken by Polish officials
from January 2018 onward:


notorious law aiming to censor the narrative of WWII and Holocaust with regard
to Poland was passed by the Polish Sejm on January 26th, 2018, on the eve of
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a smashing victory. The Polish
opposition preferred to abstain on this  vote
leading to a surreal figure of 116 abstentions, nobody against, and two for the


– Five
days later, on January 31st,  despite
international alarm, the Senate of the Sejm passed the law into force by a
prevailing majority of the senators, 57 out of 100.


– Six
days after that, on February 6th, despite powerful, widespread and united
international outcry, the president of Poland Mr Duda signed the law,  delivering the pathetic speech of a nervous
child who knows he did something bad but would never admit it.


– Three days after that, on February 9th,
2018, Robert Winnicki, far-right Polish nationalist, member of the Sejm and
head of the National Movement, attended the party thrown at the Iran Embassy on
the 39th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, taking photos with the Iranian
Ambassador to Poland. This 33-year old extreme Polish nationalist is now
preparing the official exhibition on “the Jews who murdered Poles” as he refers
to the exile of Poles (many of those exiled were Jewish, but that does not matter
to this MP) to Siberia by the Soviet authorities, a process which he insists,
in his capacity as Polish legislator, ‘has to be legally qualified as a
‘Holocaust’.“ This MP is one of the most vocal advocates of the notorious law
on the Holocaust, and it is really worthwhile to hear his fervent speeches in
connection with the law where he argues that “Poland has to deal frequently
with Arab countries”, and urges the Polish government ‘to get off your knees
before Israel”. It all is on record, in the official documents of the Polish


– On
February 7th, a document appeared on the official site of the Polish Senate,
the Upper Chamber of the Parliament. In both a video message and letter, in
which the Senate’s Marshal, the highest official of Senate, appealed to the
Poles living abroad. There are an estimated 20 million people living in the
Polish diaspora today. A quote from the Marshal’s appeal: “I am asking to
document and respond to manifestations of anti-Polandism, unfair wording and
opinions. I am asking to notify our embassies, consulates and honorary consuls
about slander violating the good name of Poland. […] I call for organizing
seminars, exhibitions, meetings, sending letters, for undertaking activities
aimed at effective admonition for historical truth.  I am also asking you to use your good,
long-term cooperation with representatives of your national authorities,
self-government authorities, social organizations, including other national
minorities, to promote reliable knowledge 
about Poland and Poles. 
Sincerely, Stanisław Karczewski”.


the third highest official of Poland is instigating about 20 million people to
become informers to the current Polish state and to actively participate in the
Polish state’s new measures abroad.The Orwellian reality is the current Polish
reality, and  KGB methods are now being
put to use, – as is written in the official letter of the Marshal of the Polish


the same time, two more laws were acted upon by the Polish parliament. In
mid-February 2018, the Polish Sejm prepared to vote on the new law restricting
the export of kosher meat from Poland. This law, if accepted, would affect not
only working places and the economy, but the human rights of consumers of
kosher meat across Europe, because Poland today is one of the largest exporters
of kosher meat. How is the reason for accepting such a law phrased by the
Polish legislators? – kosher slaughter is termed an “unnatural death of
animals”. Nice to hear how humane Poles can be to animals, especially to the
animals of others.


– At
the same time, in February 2018, the ministry of justice of Poland decided ‘to
re-examine’ the restitution law which was supposed to come to a vote in the
Sejm. This effectively means the bill is frozen for a substantial time. The law
in question is a mockery of a law, actually, because of many of its
deliberately twisted positions; but even that very bad law had been used by
Polish legislators and the government against Israel and international Jewish
organisations in the ongoing dispute around the Holocaust law.


and Bosnia-Herzegovina are the only two European countries that ‘have failed to
enact any comprehensive legislation covering property taken from Jews during
the Holocaust and Communist eras, according to the Holocaust Immovable Property
Restitution Study completed  by the
European Shoah Legacy Institute in April 2017. Given the figure of 3,47 million
Jews, 3 million of whom were exterminated, and their property of every kind
appropriated by their best-friend Polish neighbours and the Polish government
from 1939 onward, this is a travesty. The Polish state today, 73 years after
the end of the WWII and 29 years after their post-Soviet independence, thrives
on massive seized property as it were entitled to it.


Poland as a country, and many
Poles as its citizens, shamelessly lived in and on illegally and
inhumanely seized Jewish property in a phenomenon widely known in Poland
as the use of  ‘abandoned property’ – as if it had been abandoned by
someone of their own will.. 73 years of use clearly makes the use of the seized
property belonging to other people and organisations feel as if it is one’s own
– as Poland demonstrated all those years, and as it still demonstrates today –


The Polish Government: Open insults and fake history

The Polish
government brought to power by the PiS party in 2015, is not new to
controversies on the Holocaust. There were several ‘opinions aired
previously by its ministers which justly caused international outcry
and denunciation.


But the current
PM Morawiecki has outperformed his colleagues and has done it in no
time. He was appointed to his position in December 2017. In the few weeks
since the end of January 2018, he outraged the world


– in a completely
inappropriate manner, he ‘taught’ the rest of the world that ‘the Arbeit Macht
Frei’ sign on the Auschwitz gates ‘is not a Polish sign’ and that
‘Auschwitz is not a Polish name’  as if the rest of the world is a bunch
of dummies.


– In February
2018, during his first official visit to Germany, the Polish PM stunned
the public by declaring seriousity: “Poland has no responsibility for antisemitism
in 1968 because there was no Poland, because the country was then occupied
by the Soviet regime.”  It is an interesting observation by an official
and a prime-minister, not an apprentice on a TV show from where he most
certainly would be fired in no time.  


– Further on, at
the  Munich International Security Conference  on February 17th,
 that man made a history by declaring that ‘ there were Jewish
perpetrators of the Holocaust’ to the stunned audience, with a flabbergasted
Austrian Chancellor Kurtz on the podium looking at the Polish PM in disbelief
and disgust


– Hours after his
‘historic’ remark, Morawiecki took the time to travel outside Munich to
attend, with Polish aplomb, nothing else but the grave of members of Brygada
Świętokrzyska, the Holy Cross Mountain Brigade, the notorious Polish Nazi
collaborators. He also said that he is ‘honoring the Polish patriots’ by his
visit, with flowers.


– Unlike the nervous president Duda, self-assured prime-minister Morawiecki
was absolutely convinced of what he was saying  and doing. He sent
the message to the world, and the world received it for what it is – that the prime-minister of Poland
is an antisemite, and that the line of his government is officially antisemitic.
It is good to know.  

He has an
infuriating patronising tone in his and his chancellor’s comments on the
repeating uproars, saying: “we understand Jewish sentiments”. Nobody is
interested in this repeated quiet arrogancy. We have heard him clearly. It
is time for him to apologise and to keep quiet.


The Polish
government, meanwhile, is very busy creating a  new history, their
own version of it – by means of national institutions. The Ministry of
Justice has frozen the restitution law, and has prepared the law restricting
export of kosher meat. The Ministry of Culture is busy as ever with active
replacement of people at the national memorial institutions – such as the Gdansk
Museum of WWII, where the Council dissolved recently, and where the new
Council will be called soon, with an officially stated purpose Let’s
be sure ‘to convey the Polish views of the WWII” in the main exhibition of
the largest WWII museum in the world.


At the same
time, another aggressive campaign  on the way and
pushed forward by the governmental bodies, is the petition for
replacing Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz Museum for over 10
years, and replacing him with someone more suitable for the government
revisionist history of that important place.   


They are also
very busy establishing  two new national institutions, The Museum of
Polish saviours, which they dare to call the Polish Yad Vashem, with a budget
of 175 million zlotych to start with, funded in good part by the EU. 
The Justice and Fortitude Institute intends to promote their new version
of history – also at the exiting Institute of National Remembrance which
has been completely compromised regarding its character and staff by the
forced actions of the same government. According to the best international
authorities on the Holocaust in Poland, such as professor Jan Grabowski,
another new museum of the Polish martyrs during the Holocaust,  the Ulma
Museum, visited ostentatiously by Morawiecki the day after law on the
Holocaust passed the Senate, is ‘an outrageously false and distorted
version of prepared history.’


There are many
local initiatives throughout Poland, on the middle and low levels of its
executive power, which bring on more antisemitic and historically
fraudulent activities weekly, if not daily.  


Against this
background, there should be no surprise at the planning and carrying out
of outrageous events – such as the February 24 conference in Wroclaw
called “The participation of Jews in the extermination of Jews”. The guest star
of that conference is the known Polish vocal antisemite Ewa Kurek who
actively promotes the concept that ghettos during the war ‘were set up by Jews
on Polish territories as a blue-print for the future Jewish state
structures’. With regard to the European Union, It is only in Poland today, in
year 2018, where such zoological antisemites are not being put behind bars –
despite the fact that Poland signed the law criminalisingHolocaust denial
in 1998.


The public
phrase of the Polish PM Morawiecki on ‘the Jewish perpetrators of Holocaust” is
very close to Holocaust denial and is a conscious travesty of the tragedy
of the Holocaust – punishable by the Poland’s own law.   


it was Polish
government who cancelled the trip of the Israeli education minister
Naftali Benett who wanted to come to see his counter-parts and to talk with
them on the matter of the notorious law. They did it in a rude and abrasive
way, very much the same as the Polish government back in 1938 closed the door
to British, French and American ambassadors who were trying to talk sense with
them on the matter of their ultimatum to Czechoslovakia.  


State policy processes: Falsification of history en-large

governmental media is full of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias daily, while
they did not report the Morawiecki comment on ‘the Jewish perpetrators of
Holocaust’ on the main official TV news at all. 


The explosion of
antisemitic hatred is all over the social media, an important part of life
for millions of people world-wide; graffiti “HItler did nothing
 wrong” are on the Polish streets today, as well as leaflets saying
“Polish money for Polish hospitals, not Jewish museums”; escalating
demonstrations of Polish ultra nationalists.


For the first
time since 1968, we are hearing that Polish Jews are bewildered and
afraid, many of them are as young as 22- 24 years, who did not know of any
problem with their Jewishness in their country until this very moment. At
 the same time, we are hearing from a senior generation, like the chairman
of the POLIN museum legendary Marian Turski that ‘we are living today in 1934
or 1935, and the main question is how to prevent 1939”. We are hearing from the
people like professor Pawel Machcewicz that “ I never thought that I would have
to run from my own country”,and from stalwart Jan T Gross that he is
‘afraid for my country now”.  


listed above indicates that in this ongoing process of falsifying the history
of the WWII, censoring Holocaust, insulting millions of victims and their
families, setting up the new, distorted reality in their own country and trying
to project this distorted reality onto the rest of the world, is not the
opinion of individuals, but the coordinated policy of the government,
legislative bodies and the presidency of Poland, thus making it the official
policy of the state.  


The Outcome: Call for sanctions

Such official
policy close to Holocaust denial and openly antisemitic, is
unprecedented for any European and Western democracy since the Nuremberg
Trials.  And it has to be responded to adequately and swiftly. There
had been calls for boycott of Poland . There were many observations on the
rapidly widening isolation of Poland which the country brought on itself
with astonishing stubbornness. In fact, the behaviour of the Polish state today
calls for nothing else but full-weight all-spectrum sanctions against
it on the grounds of open racism. This is the time for action.


It would be
completely wrong to give in to the Polish current official policy by
participating in the March of Living in the Polish part of it. It would be a
mockery of the meaning of the March and its purpose. It would be utterly wrong
and counter-productive to continue to send students there, under the
circumstances. It will be impossible to discuss it with this Polish
government and their representatives as with equal partners, because they are


Nowadays, the
prime minister of Poland is openly honouring Polish Nazi collaborators. One
does not talk with this kind of people.  


Undistorted history: a view by Winston Churchill  

In his great The
War Memoirs of Winston Churchill, Sir Winston brings his analyses and
impressions of the pre-war Polish government  which he observed
keenly as member of the British  parliament before the war and then dealt
with very closely during the war .


He writes about
it in the part of his memoirs describing the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia:
“The heroic character of the Polish race must not blind us to their record of
folly and ingratitude which over centuries had led them through measureless
suffering. [..]. Now, in 1938, over a question so minor as Teschen ( the area
of Czehoslovakia which had been seized by Poland arrogantly and hastily shortly
prior to the WWII) they sundered themselves from all those friends in France,
Britain and the United States who had lifted them once and again to a national,
coherent life, and whom they were so soon to need so sorely. We see them
hurrying, while the might of Germany glowered up against them, to grasp their
share of the pillage and ruin of Czechoslovakia. It is a mystery and tragedy of
European history, that a people capable of every heroic virtue, gifted,
valiant, charming, as individuals, should repeatedly show such inveterate
faults in almost every aspect of their governmental life. Glorious in revolt
and ruin; squalid and shameful in triumph. The bravest of the brave, too often
led by the vilest of the vile!” – quoted on the The War Memoirs of Winston
Churchill. Part III: Gathering Storm. Published as serialisation, the Life
Magazine, May 3, 1948, page 73.   


As we know,
those who are unwilling to draw conclusions and lessons from history are
doomed. There are no exceptions fo this rule.


Rogatchi is writer, film-maker, scholar and public figure. She is co-founder
and President of The Rogatchi Foundation. Dr Rogatchi is the author of The
Lessons of Survival, internationally acclaimed film on Simon Wiesenthal. Her
forthcoming book is A View From A Cattle Wagon, collection of essays on the
post-Holocaust. She is the author of Outreach to Humanity series of cultural
and educational projects of the Rogatchi Foundation, including Shining Souls.
Champions of Humanity on heroes of Holocaust.