Poland proposes: Jail users of Polish death camps

Polish government proposes bill that would make the use of terms like "Polish death camps" a crime punishable by jail time.

Ben Ariel,

Holocaust memorial in Poland
Holocaust memorial in Poland
Flash 90

The Polish government on Tuesday proposed a bill that would make the use of terms like "Polish death camps" a crime punishable by jail time, JTA reports.

The bill would prohibit assigning blame to Poland for the actions of Nazi Germany. Historians and artists would be exempt in their work.

Drafted by the Justice Ministry, the measure also would criminalize accusing Poland of international war crimes or crimes against peace or humanity. The punishment would be a fine or up to three years in jail, according to JTA.

"Diplomatic actions to counteract the falsification of our history and protect the good name of Poland and the Polish people have proved ineffective," the government said in a statement Tuesday. "There are still comments, especially in the foreign media, suggesting the participation of Poland and Poles in the crimes of World War II."

Poland was first reported to be drawing up the new regulations in February.

“This will be a project that meets the expectations of Poles, who are blasphemed in the world, in Europe, even in Germany, that they are the Holocaust perpetrators, that in Poland there were Polish concentration camps, Polish gas chambers,” Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said at the time.

“Enough with this lie. There has to be responsibility,” he added.

Poland has long sought to eliminate the misleading phrase from historical and newspaper accounts since it suggests the country, which was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, was responsible for concentration camps on its territory.

The Nazis operated many of their most infamous death camps, such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor and Treblinka complexes, in occupied Poland.

Anti-Russian sentiment is fueling a nationalist revival in Poland, where some historians, politicians and activists are engaged in a campaign to absolve their countrymen of any wrongdoing during World War II and the Holocaust, which at time shades into revisionist history.

In March, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum created software that lets journalists know when they have used the offending term "Polish death camp" and corrects it to read "Nazi death camp in Poland."

In 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama used the term “Polish death camp” while speaking at a ceremony in which he awarded the Medal of Freedom.

Poland reacted angrily at the time, and Obama’s spokesman was quick to apologize and note the president “misspoke”.


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