Polish Senate backs controversial Holocaust speech law

Israel "adamantly opposes" the Polish senate's approval on Thursday of draft legislation penalising suggestions of any complicity by Poland in the Nazi Holocaust, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.

Tensions between Warsaw and Tel Aviv emerged after Poland's lower house last week passed a bill that would introduce penalties for anyone who publicly ascribes blame to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany.

The senators on early Thursday (1 February) approved the controversial bill, which still needs to be signed into law by president Andrzej Duda.

The bill proposed by Poland's ruling conservative party calls for up to three years in prison for any intentional attempt to falsely attribute the crimes of Nazi Germany to the Polish state or people.

Ukraine's leader said Thursday he was "deeply concerned" by Poland's adoption of a controversial Holocaust bill which was created to defend the country's history, but has instead sparked an uproar.

U.S. State Department spokesman Hear Nauert also expressed concern about how rule of freedom of expression can affect norm.

"Yad Vashem will continue to support research that endeavors to uncover the complex truth about the relationship of the Polish population to the Jews during the period of the Holocaust and will promote activities for education and commemoration in this spirit".

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in the United States, however, said many Polish citizens "were complicit in the crimes against Jews", even as it acknowledged that thousands of Poles also risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbours.

The phrase "Polish death camp" is also often used in news reports about Auschwitz and other camps that were located in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Poland was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II, losing six million of its citizens including three million of its Jews, who numbered 3.2 million before the conflict.

The Washington, DC-based museum said some Polish agencies, including the police force and railroad personnel, played a role in the deportation and sending of Jews to the death camps.

"It comes down to a rather sloppy and cavalier attitude towards Polish history. towards one of the most painful periods in Polish history". "On top of that they claim that Poles are "co-responsible" for the Holocaust", he said, adding that "this is proof how necessary this bill is".

A group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms stands behind barbed wire fencing in the Oswiecim (Auschwitz) Nazi camp just after its liberation by the Soviet army in January 1945.

"We, the Poles, were victims, as were the Jews", Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said on Wednesday before the vote. Many Poles have refused to accept such findings, which have challenged a national narrative that the country was exclusively a victim.

Some experts fear the new Polish law could also mean jail for Holocaust survivors when talking about their ordeals.

Poland was home to the majority of the Nazi camp facilities during the war.


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