Poland Among Safest European Countries for Jews Today, Says Holocaust Foundation Director
The Polish president’s condemnation of antisemitism on Monday illustrates how Poland has shifted its attitude to such an extent that it has become one of the safest European countries for Jews, the head of a European Holocaust foundation told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Jonny Daniels, founder and executive director of From the Depths — which works with Holocaust survivors, Eastern-European Jewish communities and the Polish government to preserve the memory of the Nazi genocide — was responding to President Andrzej Duda’s speech commemorating the 70th anniversary of a post-Holocaust massacre of some 40 Jews in Kielce.
“In a free, sovereign and independent Poland there is no room for any form of prejudice. There is no room for racism, for xenophobia, for antisemitism,” Duda said at the site of the pogrom.
According to Daniels, Duda “reiterated what the government has been saying for a long time — that there is no place for antisemitism and racism in Poland. His words are remarkably important.”
Though Daniels said that Poland is not free of antisemitism, “It is entirely different to the feeling you have as a Jew today in Paris, Brussels or Berlin, where walking around with a kippah [yarmulka] isn’t an option,” he said.
“Antisemitism is frowned upon in Poland and is by no means mainstream,” he added, crediting Polish society’s significant interest in Judaism, in exploring Polish-Jewish roots and in Israel.
According to Daniels, while Duda has faced criticism for not speaking out enough against antisemitism, his actions speak otherwise.
“At the ceremony for the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising organized by TSKZ — the largest Jewish organization in Poland — for the first time ever, the president and prime minister of Poland were in attendance,” Daniels said. “Duda then visited the monument in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, the first president to do so.”
Duda’s remarks echo a similar call made last week by Jarosław Kaczynski, chairman of the ruling far-Right Law and Justice Party, with which Duda is allied. Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the burning of a synagogue in Bialystok during the Holocaust, Kaczynski stated, “We have to keep talking about what leads to antisemitism in any form, including the present day, hidden under the term anti-Zionism.”
In March, the Polish president said antisemitism is also insulting to Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Speaking at the inauguration the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews in Markowa, Duda stated, “As president of the Republic of Poland, I want to say clearly: Anyone who voices, sows of stokes antisemitism, tramples on the grave of the Ulma family, tramples on their memory.”
“May this tragedy, which happened to our nation and to the Jewish nation during World War II, be a dramatic lesson,” he said, “for which we must speak the truth about, what had happened, the truth and the heroism, but also the sad truth about traitors.”