Following is the response by the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem to the ratification by President Andrzej Duda of Poland’s new law criminalizing mention of collaboration by the government and/or nation or people of Poland, with the Nazi occupation during World War II and the Holocaust carried out against the Jewish People and others in Poland.
It is unfortunate that President Andrzej Duda of Poland chose today to ratify this problematic piece of legislation. This law has been the subject of discussions over the last year and a half during which Yad Vashem repeatedly warned Polish authorities regarding the flaws in the wording of the law. These flaws are liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions regarding the collaboration of parts of the Polish population – either directly or indirectly – in crimes that took place on their own land during the Holocaust.
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, reiterates and emphasizes that the term “Polish death camps” is erroneous. The concentration and extermination camps were built and operated by the Germans in Nazi-occupied Poland with the express purpose of murdering and annihilating the Jewish people within the framework of the “Final Solution.” The law relates to additional elements that will jeopardize the free and open discussion about the role of Poles – individuals and groups – in the persecution and murder of the Jews during the Holocaust.
We are concerned that this law will have repercussions in the areas of Holocaust research, education and remembrance. Yad Vashem will be watchful of the implementation of the law and the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland and will study the new reality created in their wake.