The Yad Vashem Museum harshly criticized the Polish Senate’s approval of the law against the mention of the state’s role in the Holocaust.
“It is very disappointing that Poland chose, despite the difficulties with the present wording [of the law] and the harsh protests, to approve the problematic law that could well cause a distortion of the historical truth because of the limitations it places on various expressions concerning the cooperation of parts of the Polish population – directly and indirectly – with the crimes committed on their land during the period of the Holocaust,” the museum said in a statement Thursday.
Yad Vashem says it differentiates between the ban on using phrases such as “Polish death camps” – which it also agrees is incorrect – and “other elements” of the law, which include sections that ban speaking about the part of the “Polish people” in the Nazi crimes or crimes against humanity.
These sections of the law “endanger the free and candid discussion of the part of members of the Polish people in the persecution of Jews during the [Holocaust] period,” said Yad Vashem.
“The extermination camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland in order to murder the Jewish people within the framework of the ‘Final Solution.’
“However, restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people’s direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion.
“Yad Vashem will continue to support research that endeavors to uncover the complex truth about the relationship of the Polish population to the Jews during the period of the Holocaust and will promote activities for education and commemoration in this spirit.”
Poland has gone through a painful public debate in recent years about guilt and reconciliation over the Holocaust.
Research showing some Poles had participated in the Nazi German atrocities shook the belief of many that the nation was only a victim of World War II and had conducted itself honorably. Many still refuse to accept the findings.