Seth Eislund
Feb 9, 2018 · 2 min read

I agree with much of your response, and I have removed my references to Piotrowski and the National Armed Forces. I have also clarified my language when I said that the law makes it so that Jedwabne never happened. However, I respectfully disagree with your point that the new Holocaust law doesn’t impact the remembrance of Jedwabne or the fact that Poles collaborated with the Nazis. The wording of the law states:

“Article 55a. 1. 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, as specified in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal enclosed to the International agreement for the prosecution and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis, signed in London on 8 August 1945 (Polish Journal of Laws of 1947, item 367), 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.”

Yes, it is true that the law condemns the view that the nation of Poland was complicit in Nazi war crimes. Further, it is indisputable that the Polish government-in-exile during World War II did not collaborate with the Nazis during the Holocaust. However, the tone of this law is overtly nationalistic and authoritarian, as it imposes harsh prison sentences for simply having a perspective that contradicts that of the Polish government. The main issue I have with the law can be found in the following line:

“or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes…”

With the inclusion of this line in the Holocaust law, Poland intends to redirect culpability from its own citizens to those of the nation that occupied it during the Second World War, Germany. The law fails to condemn the Poles who collaborated with the Nazis and strongly implies that the “true perpetrators” of the Holocaust were not Polish, as the law seeks to distance the issue of the Holocaust from the hands of the Polish state. As shown with my example of Jedwabne, the perception that all Poles were innocent during the Holocaust is patently untrue. Even if the official Polish government wasn’t responsible for the Holocaust, that did not stop Poles from committing atrocities. Thus, driven by a nationalistic sentiment, the law tries to improve the image of the Polish people during the Holocaust, even when doing so violates historical fact.

    Seth Eislund

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    Seth Eislund is currently a student at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He is interested in history, religion, and politics, as well as Monty Python.