FOR years, Polish officials have battled to ensure that the phrase “Polish death camps” is not used as a shorthand for Auschwitz and other extermination camps run by the Nazis on Polish territory. Barack Obama did so in a speech in 2012 and was swiftly rebuked by Poland’s foreign minister. Now the government in Warsaw has gone a step further. A bill approved earlier this month introduces a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment for “whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the German Third Reich...or any other war crimes, crimes against humanity or crimes against peace”. As Poland’s government continues its argument with the European Union over Poland’s control of the judiciary, its reputation has taken another knock.
Six million Polish citizens died during the second world war, 3m of whom were Jews, representing 90% of the country’s Jewish community. The Polish government did not collaborate with the...Continue reading