As some of you may be aware, Poland has recent passed some legislation in the lower house of the Polish Parliament outlawing associating Poland with the Shoah. The contention, as it appears in the media, seems to be focusing on whether or not the extermination camps, which were all in Poland, should be referred to as Polish Death Camps. Clearly they weren’t, they were Nazi Death Camps, and as we know there were many Poles who stood up against the Nazis, often at personal risk to their own lives and that of their families.

However, the legislation seems to imply that Poland had no responsibility whatsoever for the murder of millions of Jews. This is simply not true. The legislation also inhibits free speech which is a dangerous precedent. It should be a concern, therefore, for this legislation to pass when it comes up for a further reading.

The Polish people need to accept their complicity in the Shoah whilst also celebrating those who stood up to the Nazis, as we should too, and how Yad VaShem has through its Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. We should also be sure to attribute the horror of the extermination camps and the Shoah to the true perpetrators – Nazi Germany – whilst acknowledging the assistance they had through their collaborators throughout Nazi occupied Europe.

It is also important to acknowledge that Poland has been a good friend to Israel of late in the UN and in the EC and relations between the two countries are generally very good. It would be a shame for this to sour them. A good and balanced blog by David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, on this matter can be found here.

Whilst the influence we have in NZ is relatively small, we can still express our concerns at this legislation with respect to the above by writing to the Polish Embassy and the Honorary Consul. Their details are below:

HE Ambassador Gniatkowski
Level 9, City Chambers
142-144 Featherston Street
Wellington 6011

Honorary Consul: Mr Bogus?aw Nowak
1st Floor, Green Lite Travel Building, 33 Shaddock Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland 1021

Thank you for your assistance in this.

The Zionist Federation of New Zealand

ALSO: Here’s what the World Jewish Congress has to say about the Polish legislation: