New controversial bill could silence discussion of Poland’s role in Holocaust.
History is not just a collection of facts. It is a living entity that is constantly changing based on interpretation, new information, and how it is being used in contemporary society.
A new battleground in history is being set in Poland, where a bill was approved that would give a fine or jail time of up to three years for anyone who was found guilty of blaming the Polish nation for contributing to the Holocaust.
The bill was sponsored by the ultra-right nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS). The justification of the law is to stop the association of Poland with death camps, which were run by Nazi Germans. Poland originally had the largest Jewish population in Europe. Over 3 million or 90 percent of the population was killed during the Holocaust. Some of the infamous death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Sobibór were in Poland.
Critics of the bill state that this is a white-washing of history. While there are numerous stories of courageous Poles that protected and defended Jews, there are also stories of collaborators who turned in Jews for rewards, helped aid in the death camps, and worked with the Nazis. One Jewish historian, Ephraim Zuroff, stated that the number of collaborators is in “many thousands.”
Israel has been angered by the passage of the bill, passing counter bills about denying involvement and stated that political sanctions should follow. President Andrej Duda, who has 21 days to sign the bill, argued that it is necessary to defend the “historical truth.” Exempt from the law are those that are using it for artistic or scientific activities.