By Inna Rogatchi—
The official racist and anti-Semitic policy of the current Polish government is the call for full-weight all-spectrum sanctions against Poland: diplomatic, humanitarian, educational and cultural, trade and military ones.
The year of the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the day on which Israel and many Jewish communities world-wise are commemorating as Yom Ha-Shoah, the Day of the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, has started for the world with an usefully sobering show of the Poland’ official anti-Semitism.
To observe the facts only, and only of the official measures undertaking by the Polish officials from January 2018 onward:
Legislative authorities: speedy escalation of hostility
The notorious law aiming to censor the narrative of the WWII and Holocaust with regard to Poland has been voted by the Polish Sejm on January 26th, 2018, on the eve of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with smashing victory. The Polish opposition preferred to abstain on this symptomatic vote in a surreal figure of 116 abstained, nobody against, and two voted for the law. In just five days after that, on January 31st, despite the international alarm, the Senate of the Sejm is passing the law in force, also by prevailing majority of the senators, 57 of them out of 100. In six days after that, on February 6th, despite powerful, wide and united in its opinion international outcry, the president of Poland Mr Duda signs the law, after making pathetic speech of a nervous boy who knows that he did something bad but would never admit it.
Three days after that, on February 9th, 2018, Robert Winnicki, far-right Polish nationalist, member of the Sejm and head of the National Movement, had attended the party at the Iran Embassy on the 39th anniversary of their revolution, taking a manifesting photos with the Iranian Ambassador in Poland. This 33-year old extreme Polish nationalist is preparing now the official exhibition on “the Jews who murdered Poles” as he refers to the exile of Poles ( many of them were Jewish, but it does not matter for this MP) to Siberia by the Soviet authorities, the process which he insists, in his capacity of Polish legislator, ‘has to be legally qualified as ‘holocaust’ “. This MP is the one of the most vocal advocates of the notorious law on the Holocaust, and it is really worth to hear his fervent speeches in connection with the law where he argues that “Poland has to do a lot with Arab countries”, and urges Polish government ‘to take off your knees before Israel”. It all is on record, in the official documents of the Polish Sejm.
On February 7th, a certain document had appeared on the official site of the Polish Senate, the Upper Chamber of their parliament. In both, video message and the letter, the Senate’s Marshal, the highest official of Senate, appealed to the Poles living abroad. There are estimated about 20 million people living in the Polish diaspora today. The quote from the Marshal’s appeal: “ I am asking for documenting and responding to manifestations of anti-Polonism, unfair wording and opinions. I am asking for notifying our embassies, consulates and honorary consuls about slander violating the good name of Poland. […] I am calling for organizing seminars, exhibitions, meetings, sending letters, for undertaking activities aimed at effective admonition for historical truth. I am also asking you to use your good, long-term cooperation with representatives of your national authorities, self-government authorities, social organizations, including other national minorities, to promote reliable knowledge about Poland and Poles. Sincerely, Stanisław Karczewski”.
Basically, the third highest official of Poland is instigating about 20 million people to become informers to the current Polish state and to actively participate in the Polish state’s active measures abroad.The Orwellian reality is the current Polish reality, and the KGB methods is taken in a full use by them, as well, – as it written in the official letter of the marshal of the Polish senate.
At the same time, two more legislations had been acted upon by the Polish parliament. In mid-February 2018, Polish Sejm had prepared to vote on the new law restricting the export of the kosher meat from Poland. Needless to say how much this law if accepted would affect not only working places and economy, but the human rights of consumers of kosher meat across Europe, because Poland today is still cashing a lot on it being the one of the largest exporter of the kosher meat. And how the reason for accepting such law as it is phrased by the Polish legislators? – it is “unnatural death of animals”. Nice to hear on how human Poles can be, especially to the animals of the others.
At the same time, in February 2018, the ministry of justice of Poland has decided ‘to re-exam’ the restitution law which was supposed to come for the voting in the Sejm. This effectively means the bill to be frozen for a substantial time. The law is question is a mockery of a law, actually, because of many of its deliberately twisted positions; but even that very bad law had been used by the Polish legislators and the government as the tool against Israel and international Jewish organisations in the ongoing dispute around the Holocaust law.
Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina are the only two European countries that ‘have failed to enact any comprehensive legislation covering property taken from Jews during the Holocaust and Communist eras”, according to the Holocaust Immovable Property Restitution Study completed by the European Shoah Legacy Institute in April 2017. Given the figure of 3,47 million Jews, 3 million of which has been exterminated, and their property of every kind appropriated by the best in the world Polish neighbours and the Polish government from 1939 onward, the Polish state today, 73 years after the end of the WWII and during 29 years of their post-Soviet independence, thrives on massive seized property as it had ever been entitled to it.
Poland as a country, and many Poles as its citizens shamelessly lived in and on seized illegally and inhumanly Jewish property in a phenomenon widely known in Poland as ‘abandoned property’ – as if it had been abandoned by someone on their own wish. 73 years of use is clearly makes the usage of the grabbed property belonging to the other people and organisations feel as one’s own – as Poland demonstrated all those years, and as it still demonstrates it today, shamelessly.
Government: open insults and faking history
From 2015 onward, the Polish government brought by power by the PiS party, is not new to the controversies on Holocaust. There were several ‘opinions’ on that aired previously by its ministers which has justly caused the international outcry and denouncination.
But the current PM Morawiecki has much outperformed his colleagues doing it in no time. He has been appointed to his position in December 2017. In three weeks from the end of January 2018 onward, he had outraged the world repeatedly: in completely inappropriate manner, he has teached the rest of the world that ‘the Arbeit Macht Frei’ the sign on the Auschwitz gates ‘is not a Polish sign’ and that ‘Auschwitz is not a Polish name’ as if the rest of the world are dummies.
In February 2018, during his first official visit to Germany, Polish PM has stunned the public by declaring in all seriousity: “Poland has no responsibility for anti-Semitism in 1968 because there was no Poland, but the country had been occupied by the Soviet regime”. It is an interesting observation by an official and a prime-minister, not an apprentice at the famous TV show where from he most certainly would be fired in no time.
Further on, at the Munich International Security Conference on February 17th, that man has made a history by declaring that ‘ there were Jewish perpetrators of Holocaust’ to the stunned audience with flabbergasted Austrian chancellor Kurtz on the podium looking at the Polish PM in a misbelief and disgust.
In a couple of hours after his historic remark, Morawiecki took his time to travel outside Munich to attend, along, with all that Polish aplomb, nothing else but the grave of members of Brygada Świętokrzyska, the Holy Cross Mountain Brigade, the notorious Polish Nazi collaborators. He also made his comment that he is ‘honoring the Polish patriots’ by his visit, flowers and a nod.
Unlikely nervous president Duda, quite self-assured prime-minister Morawiecki was absolutely convinced in what he was saying and doing. He sent the message to the world, and the world got it as it is – that the prime-minister of Poland is convinced anti-Semite, and that the line of his government is officially anti-Semitic. It is good to know.
He just has to keep to himself the patronising tone in his and his chancellery’s comments on the repeating uproars: “we understand Jewish sentiments”. Nobody is interested in this repeated quiet arrogancy. We have heard him clearly. It is the time and the reason for him to apologise and to keep quiet.
The Polish government, meanwhile, is very busy with the activities of building up a new history, their own version of it ,by the means of national institutions. Ministry of justice has frozen the restitution law, and has prepared the law restricting export of kosher meat. Ministry of culture is busy as ever with active replacement of people at the national memorial institutions – such as Gdansk Museum of WWII, where the Council has been dissolved just very recently, and where the new Council will be called with the officially stated purpose ‘to convey the Polish views of the WWII” in the main exhibition of the largest in the world museum on the WWII.
At the same time, the aggressive campaign is on the way with pushing forward, by the governmental bodies, the petition for replacing Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz Museum for over 10 years, from his position and placing some more suitable for the government revisionist of history on that important place.
They are also very busy with establishing two new national institutions, Museum of Polish saviours, which they dare to call the Polish Yad Vashem, with a budget of 175 million zlotych to start with, funded by the EU to serious part; and Justice and Fortitude Institute to promote their new version of history – additionally to the exiting Institute of the National Remembrance which has been completely compromised in its character and people by the forced actions of the same government. According to the best international authorities on the Holocaust in Poland, such as professor Jan Grabowski, tyet another new museum of the Polish martyrs during the Holocaust, such as Ulma museum, visited by prime-minister Morawiecki in a demonstrating visit the day after law on the Holocaust had passed the Senate, is ‘outrageously false and distorted version of preparated history’.
There are many local initiatives throughout Poland, on the middle and low levels of its executive power, which brings on more anti-Semitic and historically fraudulent activities weekly, if not daily.
Against this background, there should be no surprise on the planning and carrying on outrageous events – such as planned for February 24 conference in Wroclaw called “The participation of Jews in the extermination of Jews”. The guest star of that conference was called the known Polish sick and vocal anti-Semite Ewa Kurek who actively promotes the concept that ghettos during the war ‘ were set up by Jews on the Polish territories as a blue-print for the future Jewish state structures’. With regard to the European Union, It is only in Poland today, in year 2018, where such zoological anti-Semites are not being put behind the bar – despite the fact that Poland the law criminalising the Holocaust denial since 1998.
The public phrase of the Polish PM Morawiecki on ‘the Jewish perpetrators of Holocaust” is very close to the Holocaust denial and is conscious travesty of the tragedy of the Holocaust – which is punishable by the Poland’s own law on that.
And it was Polish government who did cancel the trip of the Israeli education minister Naftali Benett who wanted to come to see his counter-parts and to talk with them on the matter of the notorious law. They did it in a rude and abrasive way, very much the same as the Polish government back in 1938 did close the door to British, French and American ambassadors who were trying to talk sense with them on the matter of their ultimatum to Czechoslovakia.
State policy processes: falsification of history en-large
What follows such fast unfold of the Holocaust related official policy in Poland today is predictable: official governmental media is full of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias daily while they did not report the Morawiecki comment on ‘the Jewish perpetrators of Holocaust’ on the main official TV news at all; the explosion of anti-Semitic hatred is all over the social media which is an important part of life of millions of people world-wide; graffities “HItler did nothing wrong” are on the Polish streets today, as well as the leaflets saying “Polish money for Polish hospital, not Jewish museum!”; escalating demonstrations of Polish ultra nationalists.
For the first time since 1968, we are hearing today from Poland that Polish Jews are bewildered and afraid, many of them are as young as 22- 24 years, who did not know any problem with their Jewishness in their country until this very moment. At the same time, we are hearing from a senior generation, like the chairman of the POLIN museum legendary Marian Turski that ‘we are living today in 1934 or 1935, and the main question is how to prevent 1939th”. We are hearing from the people like professor Pawel Machcewicz that “ I never thought that I would have to run from my own country”,and from steel-made Jan T Gross that he is ‘afraid for my country now”.
Everything listed above indicates that in this ongoing process of falsifying the history of the WWII, censoring Holocaust, insulting millions of victims and their families, setting up the new, distorted reality in their own country and trying to project this distorted reality onto the rest of the world, is not an opinion of an individual, but the coordinated policy of the government, legislative bodies and the presidency of Poland, thus making it the official policy of the state.
The Outcome: call for sanctions
Such official policy which is very close to the Holocaust denial and is openly anti-Semitic is unprecedented for any European and Western democracy government since the Nuremberg Trial. And it has to be responded to adequately and swiftly. There had been calls for boycott of Poland – or rather it was Poland itself who has called to boycott it in its current official state. There were very many observations on rapidly widening isolation of Poland which the country has pushes itself in with astonishing stubbornness. In fact, the behaviour of the Polish state today calls for nothing else but the full-weighted all-spectrum sanctions against it on the ground of open racism. This is the high time for action.
It would be completely wrong to give in to the Polish current official policy by participating in the March of Living in the Polish part of it. It would be a mockery of the meaning of the March and its purpose. It would be the same utterly wrong and counter-productive to continue to send school students there, under the circumstances. It will be self-afflicting to discuss with this Polish government and their representatives as with equal partners, because they are not.
Nowadays, they are perpetrators of the falsifying the history, as they have manifested it to the whole world shamelessly. The prime minister of Poland is emphatically honouring the Polish Nazi collaborators – and the prime Minister of Israel is ‘talking with him in a long conversation’. That’s simply wrong. There are many other effective and proper ways ‘to talk’ with those who has chosen to insult the victims of Holocaust, entire Jewish people, and the state of Israel in the unprecedented way. One does not talk with this kind of people.
Undistorted history: a view by Winston Churchill
In his great The War Memoirs of Winston Churchill, Sir Winston has come with his analyses and impressions of the pre-war Polish government with whom he observed keenly as the member of the British parliament before the war and then dealt with very closely during the war . He writes about it in the part of his memoirs describing the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia: “The heroic character of the Polish race must not blind us to their record of folly and ingratitude which over centuries had led them through measureless suffering. [..]. Now, in 1938, over a question so minor as Teschen ( the area of Czehoslovakia which had been seized by Poland arrogantly and hastily shortly prior to the WWII) they sundered themselves from all those friends in France, Britain and the United States who had lifted them once and again to a national, coherent life, and whom they were so soon to need so sorely. We see them hurrying, while the might of Germany glowered up against them, to grasp their share of the pillage and ruin of Czechoslovakia. It is a mystery and tragedy of European history, that a people capable of every heroic virtue, gifted, valiant, charming, as individuals, should repeatedly show such inveterate faults in almost every aspect of their governmental life. Glorious in revolt and ruin; squalid and shameful in triumph. The bravest of the brave, too often led by the vilest of the vile!” – quoted on the The War Memoirs of Winston Churchill. Part III: Gathering Storm. Published as serialisation, the Life Magazine, May 3, 1948, page 73.
As we know, those who are unwilling to draw conclusions and lessons from history are doomed. There are no exceptions from this rule of mankind.
Inna Rogatchi is writer, film-maker, scholar and public figure. She is co-founder and President of The Rogatchi Foundation. Dr Rogatchi is the author of The Lessons of Survival, internationally acclaimed film on Simon Wiesenthal. Her forthcoming book is A View From A Cattle Wagon, collection of essays on the post-Holocaust. She is the author of Outreach to Humanity series of cultural and educational projects of the Rogatchi Foundation, including Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity on heroes of Holocaust.