A Polish prosecutor who twice wanted to discontinue the investigation into an article written by a Polish-American professor based at Princeton University that said Poles had killed more Jews than the Germans did during World War II, has been demoted.
In October 2015, the Polish prosecutors’ office opened a libel investigation against Jan Tomasz Gross, operating under a section of the criminal code that says that “any person who publicly insults the Polish nation is punishable by up to three years in prison.”
Katowice prosecutor, Michal Binkiewicz, who is conducting the investigation into the possible insult of the Polish nation by Gross, twice wanted to dismiss the case. His superiors disagreed with this decision and have decided to demote Binkiewicz, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported.
In 2015, Gross wrote an article for Project Syndicate on the situation of refugees and the reaction to them in Eastern Europe. In the article, he wrote that during the war Poles killed more Jews than the Germans killed. Gross also wrote that “Poles fought bravely with the Germans during this period and can be proud of the excellent anti-Nazi underground.”
“I have blackened many pages with ink and it seems to me that I have not used the term ‘Polish nation’ anywhere,” said Gross in April 2016 in an interview for the Jewish.pl website. “You can’t insult anyone by telling the truth. What I wrote in these few sentences is true. This excludes the possibility of criminal liability, but I understand that this is a political situation and someone may decide that I should be prosecuted.”
Binkiewicz dismissed the case in October 2016, and then, again, in June 2017, acknowledging that no crime was committed, and that Gross had exercised the right to freedom of expression. The decisions of the prosecutor were repealed by his superiors, who appointed experts to evaluate Gross’ words. In October, the case was taken over by another prosecutor, Iwona Skrzypek.
According to Gazeta Wyborcza, Binkiewicz learned that he will not be promoted in the regional prosecutor’s office in Katowice and will return to the lower prosecutor’s office in Sosnowiec.
Gross, a Polish-American sociologist and historian, is a professor on the history faculty at Princeton University. He is the author of the book “Neighbors,” about the pogrom in Jedwabne on July 10, 1941 on Jewish residents of the village by Polish people. This book initiated the Polish debate on the responsibility of Poles for the crimes committed during the war and the murder of Jews.