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July 4, 2021 12:09 pm
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After Latest Legislation on Stolen Jewish Property, It’s Time to Cut Ties With Poland’s Government

avatar by Ben Cohen / JNS.org

Opinion

Participants attend the annual “March of the Living” to commemorate the Holocaust at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, in Brzezinka near Oswiecim, Poland, May 2, 2019. Reuters/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

JNS.org – Poland is awash in antisemitism, and it is the government in Warsaw that is setting the hateful tone amid the worst breakdown in Polish-Jewish relations since the fall of communism more than 30 years ago.

I take no pleasure in making that observation, which has been a long time in coming. It is the inevitable consequence of the decision of the Polish parliament, which is dominated by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party and its ultranationalist allies, to pass a law earlier this month effectively closing off the restitution claims of Holocaust victims and their immediate descendants.

It is ironic that a party named “Law and Justice” should be so wedded to outright theft and discrimination, but that is the present-day reality in Poland. Three years after instituting a law that encourages civil prosecutions against historians who “falsely” claim that some Poles collaborated with the occupying Nazis in hunting down and slaughtering Jews — as thousands of them verifiably did — the PiS government is once more adjusting its official narrative of the Holocaust in Poland, from where three million of the six million Jewish victims of the Nazis originated. (Here, incidentally, is as good a place as any to stress that these were Jewish victims; women, men, and children exterminated solely because they were Jews, and not because they were “Polish citizens of Jewish origin,” a phrase some unscrupulous nationalist politicians have been deploying in order to depict the Holocaust as ultimately a Polish tragedy and not a Jewish one.)

The underlying purpose of the new law is to assert, against the historical record, that neither Poland nor the Poles themselves bear any responsibility whatsoever for the fate of the Jews, who are hypocritically remembered by the same nationalists as “our compatriots,” as though the brutal history of Polish antisemitism that long predated the German occupation never happened. Murdered Jews? Blame Germany alone. Synagogues burned to a cinder? Blame Germany alone. Stolen Jewish property? Blame Germany alone.

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