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State Department Report From 1946 Suggests Poles Persecuted Jews ‘Vigorously’ During Holocaust

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The main gate at Auschwitz. Photo: Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. – In a bid to end the contentious debate surrounding Poland’s controversial Holocaust law, the Simon Wiesenthal Center Thursday released a declassified report highlighting Polish complicity in persecuting Jews during the Holocaust.

The US State Department report from May 15, 1946 — released by Simon Wiesenthal Center on the same day Polish Holocaust law went into effect — found “evidence that Poles persecuted the Jews as vigorously as did the Germans.”

The report, declassified in 1983, found that “native Poles” took part in anti-Jewish actions conducted by the Germans, and called antisemitism “a traditional feature of Polish political and economic life.”

The report also documents antisemitism in Poland prior to the Holocaust, such as the country’s antisemitic policies following World War I, such as a ban on ritual animal slaughter, discriminatory tax laws, and a limit on the number of Jews given admittance to universities.

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At the same time, the report also documents attacks against Jews following the Holocaust, including reports that over 350 Jews were killed in Polish towns.

The Polish legislation enacted Thursday makes it illegal to attribute crimes committed during the Holocaust to Poland. The law has sparked outrage in Israel and among Holocaust survivors, and has also been condemned by the United States, a key ally of Poland.

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