Iran Embraces Polish Far Right Advocate of Widely-Condemned ‘Holocaust Law’
Polish far right leader Robert Winnicki paid homage at the Iranian Embassy in Warsaw on Friday, attending ceremonies marking the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution – a sign that the regime in Tehran, which actively promotes Holocaust denial, spots a potential propaganda opportunity from the diplomatic row between Poland, Israel and the US triggered by widely-censured legislation that makes any discussion of Polish collusion with the Nazi genocide of the Jews a criminal offense.
Winnicki, who represents the far right National Movement in the Polish parliament, is a vocal supporter of the government-sponsored bill on the commemoration of World War 2, signed into law by President Andrzej Duda on Monday.
During his visit to the Iranian Embassy, the MP was accompanied by a group of Polish survivors of the forced deportations to the Soviet Union that began in 1940, who were later resettled in neighboring Iran. Along with denying the collusion of thousands of Poles with the Nazi authorities, Polish right-wing nationalists fervently believe that the deportation of Poles to the Siberian gulags should be regarded as a “Holocaust,” while Winnicki said this week that he plans to organize an exhibition on the subject of “Jews who murdered Poles.”
More than one million Polish citizens were deported to labor camps in Siberia by the NKVD, the Soviet secret police. In 1942, the Soviet authorities resettled 24,000 Poles in Iran.
Unmentioned at the Iranian Embassy meeting was the fact that there were 100,000 Jews among the Polish deportees to the Soviet Union. The group of Poles who went to Iran also included 1,000 Jewish orphans known as the “Tehran Children,” most of whom were rescued by the Jewish Agency and brought to safety in Palestine.
On Twitter, Winnicki praised the encounter at the Iranian Embassy as “cordial and politically significant,” without going into detail. Over the last decade, Iran has hosted conferences pushing Holocaust revisionism and outright denial and sponsored international contests of cartoons lampooning the murder of six million Jews. Several Iranian leaders – including “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani – have openly claimed that the Holocaust is a pernicious myth whose sole goal is to benefit Israel.
Winnicki’s National Movement co-sponsored a November 2017 demonstration that brought 60,000 ultranationalist and Neo-Nazi activists onto the streets of Warsaw. Winnicki enjoys a strong profile in the Polish media, and is a frequent guest on the antisemitic broadcaster Radio Maryja as well as several television stations. The MP has been particularly angered by Israel’s opposition to Poland’s Holocaust legislation, telling a rally outside the Presidential Palace this week that the country is dealing with “an unprecedented diplomatic and political aggression by Israel.”