The Latest: US concerned with Polish law’s adverse effects
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Latest on Poland’s proposed legislation to limit Holocaust speech (all times local):
The United States is expressing disappointment that Poland’s president has gone ahead and signed legislation that would make it a crime to attribute the Holocaust crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the new law “adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the legislation Tuesday, defying a warning from the U.S. But Duda also said he would ask Poland’s constitutional court to evaluate the bill, leaving open the possibility it could be amended.
Polish government officials argued the law is needed to discourage expressions such as “Polish death camps” to refer to the camps Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during World War II.
Tillerson said that while “terms like ‘Polish death camps’ are painful and misleading,” they are best countered through “open debate, scholarship, and education.”
Poland’s president says it may not be possible to punish anyone under the new law banning some statements about the Holocaust, especially if they are made abroad.
Andrzej Duda signed a bill Tuesday that calls for prison terms for people blaming Poland as a nation for Holocaust crimes committed by Nazi Germany. The law has led to a dispute with Israel, where it is seen as blocking free speech about the Holocaust.
Duda told a meeting of Poles who saved Jews from the Holocaust that in fact “the point is not to punish anyone. In the sense of punishment, it may prove unrealistic,” especially if the statements are made outside Poland.
He said the law is a “signal that the Polish state sees a problem that hurts (us).”
Poland’s president has signed a bill that outlaws blaming Poland as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.
The press office of President Andrzej Duda confirmed he enacted the law on Tuesday, about six hours after he announced he planned to do so.
However, Duda said earlier in the day he planned to ask the Poland constitutional court to evaluate the bill, leaving open the possibility it might be amended.
As written, the legislation approved by Polish lawmakers carries fines and prison sentences of up to three years for public statements that falsely attribute the crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland.
Both Israel and the United States have criticized the law. Israeli officials and Holocaust scholars said it would allow Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews during Nazi Germany’s World War II occupation of Poland.
Israel’s official Holocaust memorial fears a new Polish law banning the attribution of Nazi crimes during World War II to Poland may distort history and impact Holocaust research, education and remembrance.
Yad Vashem said in a statement that the law’s wording is flawed, and is “liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions regarding the collaboration of parts of the Polish population... in crimes that took place on their own land during the Holocaust.”
Poland’s authorities say the law aims to protect the country’s reputation from what it believes is confusion about who bears responsibility for death camps Nazi Germany set up in occupied Poland.
Israel sees it as an attempt to whitewash the role some Poles played in the killing of Jews during World War II.
Ukrainian lawmakers have criticized a new Polish law criminalizing some statements about World War II, saying it will foment anti-Ukrainian sentiment.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday he will sign the legislation, which outlaws blaming Poland for the crimes of Nazi Germany. The law has sparked a rift with Israel.
The law also includes a section making it a crime to deny atrocities committed by Ukrainian nationalists against Poles during WWII. From 1943-1944, Ukrainian nationalists killed up to 100,000 Poles in Volyn and eastern Galicia, areas then in Poland but now in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian parliament said in its statement that the Polish bill contains a “biased and controversial” reading of history, paving the way for “manipulations and strengthening of anti-Ukrainian trends.”
The bill comes at a time of growing tensions between neighboring Ukraine and Poland amid a rise of nationalism in both countries.
Poland is angry that some of the Ukrainians who killed Poles are now being hailed as Ukrainian national heroes.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda says that artistic and historical research work will be exempted from a disputed bill that penalizes blaming Poland for complicity in Nazi Germany’s crimes.
Duda said Tuesday he will sign into law proposals to impose prison sentences on anyone who “publicly and against the facts” accuses the Polish people of crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. However, he also said that a top Polish court will evaluate the wording of the proposals to make room for possible amendments.
Duda said during a visit to Israel last year he was made aware of expectations that the legislation should not block artistic or historical work on the Holocaust.
Israel says it will continue to communicate with Poland despite its reservations over a controversial Polish proposal to outlaw blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry says Tuesday it hopes President Andrzej Duda’s decision to ask the country’s constitutional court to evaluate the bill will allow both sides to “agree on changes and corrections.”
Duda said Tuesday he will sign the law though he would also ask the Constitutional Tribunal to suggest possible amendments.
Israel has been outraged by the law, fearing it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews to Germans during World War II. The United States also strongly opposed the legislation, saying it could hurt Poland’s strategic relations with Israel and the U.S.
The foreign ministry says both countries have “a joint responsibility to research and preserve the history of the Holocaust.”
A leading figure in the Jewish American community has criticized Poland’s handling of its new Holocaust law.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says Poland has made an “issue” out of its people’s actions during the Holocaust and is denying the truth.
He says that while Poles who helped save Jews during the Holocaust should be recognized, Poland should also acknowledge that many Poles were complicit in aiding the Nazis.
“It is not credible to engage in the denial,” Hoenlein said Tuesday. He says it would be better if Poland said “there was evil done. We recognize it.”
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday he will sign into law a proposal to impose prison terms for statements blaming Poland for World War II crimes committed by Nazi Germany. The proposal has angered Israel and prompted criticism from the United States.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda had defended a law that penalizes blaming Poles as a nation for complicity in Nazi Germany’s crimes, saying the law will not block Holocaust survivors and witnesses from talking about crimes committed by individual Poles.
Duda confirmed Tuesday he will sign into law a proposal to impose prison terms for statements blaming Poland for World War II crimes committed by Nazi Germany. The proposal has angered Israel, which says it will stifle discussion about the Holocaust and enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews to Germans during the German occupation of Poland during WWII.
In a speech, Duda said “we do not deny that there were cases of huge wickedness” in which Poles denounced Jews.
But he said the point of the law is to prevent Poles and Poland from being wrongly accused of institutionalized participation in the Holocaust. He said: “No, there was no systemic way in which Poles took part in it.”
Poland’s president says he will sign into law a proposal to outlaw blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.
But in an unusual move, President Andrzej Duda also said Tuesday he will ask the country’s constitutional court to evaluate the bill and suggest possible amendments.
The measure, passed by Polish lawmakers, will impose prison terms of up to three years for statements blaming Poles as a nation for World War II crimes committed by Nazi Germany.
It has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews to Germans during the German occupation of Poland during World War II. The United States also strongly opposes the legislation, saying it could hurt Poland’s strategic relations with Israel and the U.S.
The office of Polish President Andrzej Duda says the leader will on Tuesday announce his decision on whether to sign legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust.
The legislation proposed by Poland’s conservative ruling party has sparked a bitter dispute with Israel, which says it will infringe on free speech about the Holocaust. The United States also strongly opposes the legislation, saying it could hurt Poland’s strategic relations with Israel and the U.S.
The bill penalizes blaming Poles as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It needs Duda’s signature to become law. He has spoken in its favor.
Duda can also choose to send the bill back to parliament or seek an opinion on it from the Constitutional Tribunal.