W związku z publikacją 29 stycznia 2018 roku artykułu w Independent.ie pt. “Israeli fury as Poland 'rewrites history’ of Nazi death camps” Pani Rachel Alexander, Zarząd Forum Polonia w Irlandii wystosował następujący list do redakcji gazety.

Link do artykułu: https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/israeli-fury-as-poland-rewrites-history-of-nazi-death-camps-36540249.html


Dublin 7th of February 2018

Editor of

Irish Independent

Dear Editor

We are writing in relation to the article “Israeli fury as Poland 'rewrites history’ of Nazi death camps” written by Rachel Alexander and published in The Irish Independent on 29th of January 2018.

The article reports on the diplomatic crisis between Poland and Israel in relation to a new Bill which imposes jail time for suggesting „publicly and against the facts” that the Polish nation or State was complicit in Nazi Germany’s crimes.

We found the article deeply disturbing, and we believe that the journalist was very unfair in her reporting about the situation between two countries. Certain parts of the article were historically inaccurate and some others could be very misleading. We found the following statements especially inappropriate:

1) “Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, accused Poland of trying to rewrite history yesterday, as the country pushed legislation that would make it illegal to describe Nazi death camps as „Polish”.

2) “The controversial bill marks a dramatic step by Poland’s nationalist government to enforce its official stance that all Poles were heroes during the war.

3) „ For decades, Polish society avoided discussing the killing of Jews by civilians or denied that anti-Semitism motivated the slayings, blaming all atrocities on the Germans.

We wish to note that the first statement is extremely misleading as it suggests that by making it illegal to describe Nazi death camps as “Polish”, Poland is trying to rewrite history.

At no point in the article does the author clarify that Nazi death camps were German. At no point does the author mention that Israeli Minister of Education confirmed on 27th of January 2018 that “It is also a historic fact that the Germans initiated, planned, and built the work and death camps in Poland”. Also that the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Israel issued a statement, where it was said inter alia that: „There is no doubt that the term 'Polish death camps’ is a historical misrepresentation. Yad Vashem will continue to support research aimed at exposing the complex truth regarding the attitude of the Polish population towards the Jews during the Holocaust.” Finally, recently Gabriel Sigmar, Germany Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that “Germany alone carried out the Holocaust”.

It is deeply disturbing that the author of the article does not mention at all the nation responsible for Holocaust and just calls them ‘Nazi’, while on several occasions the word “Polish” and “Poland” is mentioned in the context of II World War crimes. We are of the view that by ommiting these information, and by ommiting the term “Nazi Germany Death Camps” the author could be misleading readers.

No one can dispute the fact that terrible atrocities took place during WWII and that, in particular, the Jewish community was singled out for horrific treatment at the hands of Nazi Germany. Atrocities were also committed by the many governments which collaborated with Nazi Germany as well as by individuals, including Polish citizens. There is no doubt about the latter.

However, it is untrue that Poland has avoided this very painful discussion. On the contrary, Polish historians have been engaged in research of this area since Poland regained full independence from the Soviet regime in 1989 and continue to do so. The insinuation that Poland started to discuss the painful issue only after publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’s book in 2000 demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the historical facts.

It is untrue and unfair to blame the Polish state or the Polish nation for the atrocities against Jews during the Second World War. No Polish government collaborated with Nazi Germany as happened in other countries occupied by the Nazis. Within a month of Hitler’s invasion, Poland was divided between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Republic. The Polish government fled to the United Kingdom and operated from there. Poland lost more than 6 million of its citizens during WWII, half of whom were Jewish. This was the biggest loss of population suffered by a single country during WWII, apart from the losses suffered by the Soviet Republic.

Such statements as those found in the article have the potential to damage the reputation of the Polish community in Ireland. We feel that those in position of responsibility, such as journalists and editors, need to take greater care when researching the facts and avoid publishing misleading reports. Especially that it appears to be the case that many people are unaware of what happened in Poland during both the Nazi and Soviet occupations.

It must also be borne in mind that Poles were one of the largest groups of non-Jews that risked their lives to protect and save the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust. They are thus known as “Righteous Among the Nations”. Furthermore, we have no doubt that readers of the Irish Independent would find it interesting to read about the Polish Army which, along with the Americans, fought in Italy and in Western countries against Nazis, or about the 303rd Division who fought bravely during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Kind regards,

Barnaba Dorda

Forum Polonia Steering Committee