American-born Rabbi Michael Schudrich who currently serves as the Chief Rabbi of Poland was the top signatory on a blunt statement that was issued on Tuesday by the representatives of Jewish organizations in Poland following the police interrogation of journalist Katarzyna Markosz after publishing that “Poles were involved in the Holocaust.” Markosz was interrogated for “damaging the good name of the nation,” the penalty for which can be three years in prison.
The Statement by Poland’s Jews said:
Recently, attempts have been made to strike against historians and journalists who are trying to fairly present the fate of Polish Jews under the German occupation. The trial brought against professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski and the questioning by the police of editor Katarzyna Markusz are just the latest examples of this.
The courtroom is not a place where historical truth is determined; we condemn such attempts and we show solidarity with people who are affected.
State institutions more and more often support, sometimes in a veiled manner, sometimes directly, financially, or through career advancement, an unreliable historical narrative. The announced appointment of the ONR [the National Radical Camp] member as the chairman of the IPN [the Institute of National Remembrance] branch in Wrocław is only one of the latest examples.
The state should not be a side in the historical debate, and especially it should not support historical untruths or hatred: we condemn such attempts whose victim is the quest for historical truth.
The statement on which Markusz was questioned: “dislike of Jews was widespread among Poles, and Polish participation in the Holocaust is a historical fact”, is confirmed in many historical studies and in the collective memory of Polish Jews.
We would prefer our history to look as rosy as someone would want to picture it – but the history is what it is. If the prosecutor’s office were to initiate an investigation into the words of Markusz, it should also include all signatories of this statement.
Michael Schudrich, Naczelny Rabin Polski
Marian Turski i Piotr Wiślicki, Stowarzyszenie Żydowski Instytut Historyczny
Anna Bakuła, Anna Barbur, Magdalena Tarczyńska, Zespół Szkół Lauder-Morasha w Warszawie
Agata Patalas, Dyrektorka Prywatnego Liceum Ogólnokształcącego im. Zuzanny Ginczanki w Warszawie
Magda Dorosz, Fundacja Hillel Polska
Andrzej Friedman – B’nai B’rith Polska
Aleksandra Leliwa Kopystyńska, Stowarzyszenie „Dzieci Holocaustu” w Polsce
Helise Lieberman, Centrum Taubego Odnowy Życia Żydowskiego w Polsce
Janusz Makuch, Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej w Krakowie
Jonathan Ornstein, Centrum Społeczności Żydowskiej JCC w Krakowie
Agata Rakowiecka, Centrum Społeczności Żydowskiej JCC w Warszawa
Alina Świdowska, Stowarzyszenie Drugie Pokolenie
In February 2018, Chief Rabbi Schudrich asked Jews worldwide to reject the calls to boycott Poland over the new Holocaust law—which has since been enacted—that would criminalize any public statements that suggested the Polish nation was complicit in Nazi war crimes.
Speaking at a session of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, Rabbi Schudrich warned that by opting not to visit Poland, world Jews would inadvertently be ostracizing the local Jewish community. At the time, the Ruderman Family Foundation launched a campaign calling on the United States to suspend diplomatic ties with Poland. Concurrently, Israelis were urging their government and world Zionist groups to stop sending Jewish children to Auschwitz, and this way curtail Polish profits from the commemoration of the Holocaust.
The good rabbi did not explain on that occasion why on God’s good Earth do Jews need to live in the cursed country where so many millions of our family members were murdered with the support of Poles.
Katarzyna Markusz, the journalist who was picked up by the cops for revealing Polish crimes under Nazi rule, told Haaretz that her investigation lasted about an hour, saying, “I was asked if I was the one who wrote the article, if I wanted to hurt the nation, and if not, what was the purpose for which I wrote it.”
She said she told them that it was a “waste of taxpayer money and my time, I wrote the truth, there were Poles who were involved in the Holocaust, they betrayed their Jewish neighbors and sometimes even killed them, it’s a fact, and it’s stupid I have to discuss it with the police and someone gets hurt, ‘How can one be offended by the truth?’”
According to reports in Poland, the complaint against Markosz journalist was filed by a nationalist group that didn’t appreciate her asking: “Will the day come when the Polish authorities will admit that there was no sympathy among the Poles and that Polish participation in the Holocaust is a historical fact?”