February 25, 2018

United States condemns Polish president's decision to sign Holocaust bill into law

09 February 2018, 01:57 | Darnell Patrick

Despite Pressure, Poland's President to Sign Controversial Holocaust Bill

President Andrzej Duda said he would also ask Poland's constitutional court to evaluate the bill- leaving open the

"We understand this law will be referred to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal", Tillerson said.

Poland's president has signed a Holocaust gag law, widening a rift with the country's Western allies.

Thus, the changes previously approved by the parliament have come into force.

The legislation, which still needs the president's signature to take effect, was introduced by Poland's governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party to stop people from erroneously describing Nazi German death camps as being Polish, simply due to their geographical location.

The bill also prohibits phrases such as "Polish death camps".

Israeli's objectionsIsraeli officials strongly objected to the law, arguing that it goes beyond precision in language.

The camps were built and operated by Nazi Germany after it invaded Poland in 1939.

The bill prescribes penalties for those who blame Poles as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Millions of its citizens were killed, including three million Polish Jews in the Holocaust.

His comments follow a warning by the State Department last week that such legislation could result in "repercussions" for Poland's relationship with the U.S.

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The Polish measure would impose prison sentences of up to three years for mentioning the term Polish death camps and for suggesting publicly and against the facts that the Polish nation or state was complicit in Nazi Germanys crimes.

He said that his decision "preserves the interests of Poland , our dignity and the historical truth" and also "takes into account the sensitivity of those for whom the question of historical memory of the Holocaust remains exceptionally important, especially those who have survived and who, as long as they can, should tell the world about this past and their experience".

But anti-Semitism grew virulent in the decades before the war, driving many Polish Jews to emigrate. He was also to meet with Holocaust survivors and Righteous Among the Nations living in Poland.

"[We] do not deny that there were cases of huge wickedness" in which Poles denounced Jews", Duda said in his Tuesday speech.

It would make it a crime to accuse the Polish state of complicity in the Holocaust.

However, historians say others were complicit.

Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, reiterated its concerns Tuesday.

Ukraine, Poland's main ally in the former Soviet region, also complained, with MPs tabling a resolution that said they were "deeply concerned" the law would "strengthen anti-Ukrainian tendencies" in Polish society.

Although the law exempts artistic and historical research work from the ban, the interpretation of which is vague.

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