Polish Official Tolerance of Far-Right Extremists ‘Deeply Troubling,’ Jewish Group Says Following Antisemitic and Racist March in Warsaw
The “apparent tolerance” of some senior Polish government ministers for the growing brazenness of the country’s nationalist far-right is “deeply troubling,” a prominent Jewish official in Warsaw said on Monday.
In a statement issued following this weekend’s far-right march in the Polish capital to mark the 99th year of Poland’s independence, Agnieszka Markiewicz — director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Warsaw-based Central Europe office — said that the “the joyous 99th anniversary of Polish independence” had been “seriously marred” by the far-right march.
“The growth of xenophobic nationalism in Poland is becoming more dangerous, and we urge the government to condemn unequivocally the phenomenon and take appropriate action to counter it,” Markiewicz said.
“The apparent tolerance shown for these purveyors of hate — and, let’s be clear, that’s exactly what they are — by some Polish government officials is particularly troubling,” she said.
Among those who praised the far-right parade was Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, who described the gathering as “a beautiful sight,” and added, “We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday.”
Supporters of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party also joined the march, which attracted 60,000 supporters. Participants chanted openly racist and antisemitic slogans, including, “Jews out of Poland,” and, “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust.”
Embarrassingly for the Polish government — which has been accused by critics of deliberately whitewashing Polish collaboration during the Nazi Holocaust, and of portraying Poles solely as victims of the Nazis — chants of the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” were also heard.
Poland’s current government has waged a legal battle for the last two years against historian Jan Gross over his research into Polish antisemitism during and after the German occupation in World War II, while last year the country’s Justice Minister warned that anyone describing the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz as a “Polish concentration camp” could face legal penalties.