Polish lawmakers on Wednesday approved a new national holiday honoring the Poles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, The Associated Press reported.
The bill, initiated by President Andrzej Duda, will make March 24 a national day of remembrance. The Polish Senate approved it by a majority of 58-14 with three abstentions, and it now requires Duda’s signature to become law.
The bill pays tribute to Poles who showed courage and compassion and were “faithful to the highest ethical values”, according to AP.
The new holiday follows passage of controversial legislation that criminalizes falsely attributing the Holocaust crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland.
The law, which was approved by the Polish Senate and then signed by the president, allows a sentence of up to three years in prison for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich." It applies to both citizens of Poland as well as foreign citizens.
Israel has criticized the legislation, as has the U.S. State Department, which warned it could violate free speech.
The legislation, as well as the holiday, are seen as a larger effort by nationalist authorities to stress Polish heroism during World War II. Last week, Poland's government announced that a planned museum devoted to the infamous wartime Warsaw Ghetto, where Nazi Germany imprisoned nearly 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust, would convey the centuries of close ties between Poles and Jews.