June 27, 2018 — New York
AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, welcomes today’s action by the Polish Parliament to remove the criminal penalties provision of the country’s controversial Holocaust responsibility law.
“As long-time friends of Poland, correcting this counterproductive measure is an important step to restore confidence and advance ties among Poland, the Jewish world, and the United States,” said AJC CEO David Harris, who has visited Poland regularly over the past 30 years, been honored twice by Polish governments, and met with senior Polish officials in an effort to defuse the crisis sparked by the law.
In February, the Polish Parliament adopted, and President Duda signed, an amendment to the country’s Institute of National Remembrance law, making it a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison, to use statements, such as “Polish death camps,” suggesting the Polish state or nation had any responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany.
While sympathetic to Polish concerns about the appalling misuse of the term “Polish death camps,” AJC immediately urged the Polish government to reconsider the ill-conceived law. AJC Central Europe, the organization’s office in Warsaw, led by Agnieszka Markiewicz, pursued advocacy efforts in Poland.
The law criminalizing speech regarding Polish responsibility during the Holocaust sparked a crisis in Poland’s relations with world Jewry, Israel and the U.S., as well as a rise in antisemitic speech and social media in Poland.
“The tremendous advances in Poland’s relations with American Jews, with Jews in Poland and around the world, and In which AJC proudly played a major role, suffered damaging setbacks in the wake of the bill regrettably adopted in February. Repairing those relations remains of utmost importance,” said Harris.