Poland says PM remarks were not holocaust denial amid Netanyahu criticism

21 February, 2018, 09:58 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Angela Merkel right and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki listen to the national anthems during a welcoming ceremony prior to a meeting in the chancellery in Berlin Germany Friday Feb. 16 2018. (AP

A spokeswoman for Poland's prime minister sought Sunday to downplay his words equating Polish collaborators in the Holocaust to alleged "Jewish perpetrators" by saying they were an invitation to a frank debate about the Second World War crimes against Jews.

"For all the PMM attackers (premier Mateusz Morawiecki) - less hysteria, more facts!" wrote the chief of the Polish Prime Minister's Chancellery Michal Dworczyk on Twitter. Others cooperated for money and improved living conditions, from opportunism, fear and, finally, to protect themselves and their families.

He said he wanted to address the issue with his Polish counterpart.

Israeli historians say it's part of an ongoing campaign to blur the lines between the murderers and the victims of the Holocaust.

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The Polish leader's comparison of Jews with others in terms of responsibility for the Holocaust drew immediate criticism.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have discussed a scandalous Polish law at a meeting in Munich.

Poland's government said Morawiecki's comments were not meant to deny the Holocaust or allege that Jewish victims bore responsibility for "Nazi German-perpetrated genocide".

The Polish embassy in Tel Aviv was vandalized on Sunday morning with deformed swastikas and anti-Polish slurs. The spokesman, Krzysztof Lapinski, said Morawiecki's reply was in Poland's interest and meant to explain the new law. He suggested to Morawiecki that he would be branded a criminal in Poland for telling the story. I want to repeat: "strategically, regarding Ukraine's territorial integrity, Ukraine's protection and support in its dispute with Moscow, and regarding Ukraine's pro-European orientation, there is no doubt", the Polish foreign minister stressed.

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The U.S. State Department called on Poland to review the law, as it could affect Polish strategic interests and relations, including with the United States and Israel.

Israel has been furious about the new legislation, and there are plans to expand Israel's existing Holocaust denial laws.

Poland was the center of Ashkenazi Jewry before the Holocaust, with around 3.5 million Jews living in the country before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Jews from across the continent were sent to be killed at death camps built by Germans in occupied Poland, such as Auschwitz and Treblinka.

The spokesman for Polish President Andrzej Duda said the strong reaction in Israel "should not be ignored" but also attributed it partly to internal political tensions in that country.

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Thousands of Poles are believed to have collaborated with the Nazis, resulting ion the death of many thousands of victims, according to Efraim Zuroff, Eastern Europe director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But he also added that likening the level of responsibility of Poles and Jews in the Holocaust was wrong.

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