The other day I was on a panel for the Jewish Genealogical Society for Greater Boston and I was asked to make a brief statement clarifying the legislation that was recently signed into law by Polish President Andrzej Duda. I thought I would share it here:
On February 6, 2018 Poland’s president Andrzej Duda signed into law an Amendment to the Act on National Remembrance which reads in part : Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich, … or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes – shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
There are exceptions if the offence is committed in the course of the one’s artistic or academic activity.
The Act shall apply to Polish and foreign citizens.
This action on behalf of the Polish government has unleashed barely buried anti-Semitism, anti-Polish sentiment and attacks within Poland on those doing the important work of Holocaust scholarship and memorialization of Jewish life and Jewish death in Poland.
It is therefore now more important than ever to visit Poland to show our support for the small but vibrant Jewish community there as well as for those non-Jewish Poles who are engaged in commemoration and remembrance of Jewish life in museums, universities, death camps and cultural institutions.