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February 17, 2016 2:30 pm

Warsaw Bill to Criminalize Implication of Polish Collusion With Nazis Paints ‘One-Sided Picture,’ Says Antisemitism Scholar

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German soldiers breaking a  Polish barrier during Nazi invasion in 1939. Photo: Wikipedia.

German soldiers breaking a Polish barrier during Nazi invasion in 1939. Photo: Wikipedia.

“The attitude of Poles toward the Jews before, during and after World War II is a complex issue,” a renowned antisemitism scholar told The Algemeiner on Wednesday, amid reports that Poland is set to criminalize any implication of its cooperation with the Nazis.

Responding to the drafting of a new bill by Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro — which would make it an offense punishable by five years in prison to say Poland “took part, organized or was co-responsible for the crimes of the Third Reich” – Manfred Gerstenfeld said, “Poles are right to say that camps such as Auschwitz, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka were German and not Polish, just as they are right to say that it was a German decision to place these camps in Poland, and that Poles were victims of the [1939-1945] Nazi occupation of their country.”

However, said Gerstenfeld, who was born in Austria, raised in Holland and moved to Israel in 1968, “This paints a very one-sided picture of the Polish reality.”

According to Gerstenfeld, the Germans’ choice of Poland for concentration camps was no accident. “There was massive antisemitism in Poland before WWII,” he said. “And though during the war, part of the Polish underground helped the Jews in a number of villages… Poles murdered hundreds of their Jewish neighbors. And some underground organizations betrayed Jews by turning them in to the Nazis.”

Not only that, said Gerstenfeld, “Even some leading underground fighters wanted the rescued Jews to leave Poland after the War. There are even a number of reports of Jews who returned to Poland after the war, only to be murdered by Poles. The best known case of this is the Kielce pogrom in 1946.”

Relating to the situation today, Gerstenfeld, author of The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Deligitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism,  added, “An opinion poll in 2011 revealed that out of seven countries surveyed, Poland was the only [country] where a majority of [the] population – 63 percent — agreed with the Nazifying statement that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.”

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