Polish parliament votes to change Holocaust law

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The Polish Parliament has voted to remove harsh penalties from its recent law forbidding blame of Poland for outrages of the Holocaust.

The law had set fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish or accuses Poland of complicity in the Third Reich’s crimes. But the jail term has now been removed, after an emergency session in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the law “was and remains the battle for the truth during World War II and in the post-war period” (Al-Jazeera).

In February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to comment on the legislation that outlawed language assigning “the Polish nation” culpability in the Holocaust.  She said only that Germany takes full responsibility for crimes against Jews during World War II.

Critics see Poland’s law as whitewashing history, and avoiding acknowledging Poles who assisted Nazi soldiers in concentration camps (Guardian). Human Rights Watch criticized the legislation. 

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who supported the legislation, signed the changes to the law. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed the move, as the original measures had caused uproar in Israel (Reuters).


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