The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, strongly opposes the Polish government’s proposed legislation which would make it a crime to suggest that Poland bears responsibility for atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
Poland’s upper house of parliament passed the bill today by a 57-23 vote, with two abstentions; the lower house approved it Friday, a day before the annual commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It now awaits the signature of Polish President Andrzej Duda, who supports it.
The law would impose sentences of up to three years in prison for those who refer to the Nazi death camps set up in Poland during World War II as “Polish death camps” or otherwise assign blame to the Polish nation for crimes against millions of Jews and others in Poland during the Holocaust.
Both the U.S. and Israeli governments have expressed alarm over the legislation; a U.S. Congressional task force on combating anti-Semitism on Wednesday called on the Polish President to veto it.
Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane stated:
“This is the wrong way to go about educating future generations about Poland’s role in the Holocaust. Even though Nazi Germany obviously bears primary responsibility for the Shoah, the proposed law grossly minimizes the fact that Polish citizens did indeed commit heinous acts, on Polish soil, against the Jewish people and other victims during World War II.”
Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin stated:
“Sadly, this legislation comes across as little more than an attempt to rewrite history. Not only would such a law criminalize speaking about Polish involvement in the Holocaust – a provable matter of fact – it distorts an important part of recent world history. We call on President Duda to take immediate action to veto this offensive legislation.”