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Poland’s Holocaust Law Weakened After ‘Storm and Consternation’

Israeli flags were carried between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau during a Holocaust remembrance march in April CreditCzarek Sokolowski/Associated Press Israeli flags were carried between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau during a Holocaust remembrance march in April

WARSAW — Just a few months after making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation of complicity in the Holocaust, Poland backpedaled on Wednesday, moving to defang the controversial law by eliminating criminal penalties for violators.

The United States and other traditional allies had excoriated the Polish government over the law, passed in February, condemning it as largely unenforceable, a threat to free speech, and an act of historical revisionism.

Although both ethnic Poles and Jews living in Poland suffered unfathomable loss during World War II, the law drove a wedge between Israel and Poland, setting back years of hard work to repair bitter feelings.

Both houses of Parliament voted on Wednesday to remove the criminal penalties, after an emotional session that saw one nationalist lawmaker try to block access to the podium. President Andrzej Duda later signed the measure into law, his office said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel welcomed the move, saying in a statement that he was pleased Poland rescinded provisions that “caused a storm and consternation in Israel and among the international community.”

By amending the statute, Poland’s governing Law and Justice party hoped to repair some of the diplomatic damage it had caused, even as it pressed ahead with sweeping judicial overhauls that have been condemned by European Union leaders as a threat to the rule of law.

Read the full story at the New York Times By Marc Santora

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