Poland's president signs Holocaust bill into law


Asked if the European Union would take measures in response to the controversial Holocaust law, signed into law by Poland's President Andrzej Duda yesterday, Le Drian said he hoped "moral pressure will be sufficient", AFP reports.

"The United States is disappointed that the President of Poland has signed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state", Tillerson said. Israel says the law would ban true statements about the role that some Poles played in Nazi crimes.

More than three million of the 3.2 million Jews who lived in pre-war Poland were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of all Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Gur-Arie underscored that although "the law prohibits accusing the Polish people on the whole", no one denies the fact that there were collaborators and accomplices of the Nazis, who then faced trial.

Duda also announced Tuesday that he would ask the country's Constitutional Tribunal to review the bill to check whether it complies with Poland's fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, potentially opening the door to amendments.

Repercussions for historiansHolocaust historians and other scholars in Poland and overseas came out firmly against the law, with many saying it will lead to self-censorship.

"I have made a decision to sign the law but also to send it to the Constitutional Tribunal", Duda told reporters in Warsaw yesterday.

Historians say some Poles were complicit in the killings, denouncing Jews to the Germans or taking part in slayings themselves. He recalled that the Polish government at the time had to go into exile and Polish officials were those who struggled to inform the world that the Germans were putting Jews to death on Polish soil.

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The US, which had discouraged Poland to pass the law, also criticised the move.

Brzezinka or Birkenau Nazi death camp near Oswieciem, Poland, when young visitors with Israeli flags walk on railway tracks on the grounds of the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

More Poles have been honoured by Israel for saving the lives of Jews during the war than any other nation.

Jerzy Czerwinski, a senator with the ruling party, said on state radio Monday that he saw a "hidden agenda" in the opposition.

The bill first was proposed about two years ago, soon after Law and Justice took power in 2015, but hadn't been an issue of public debate recently.

Tillerson said in a statement that Washington frowns upon Duda's authorization of the law. The idea seemed to have been dropped, but made a sudden reappearance when the lower house of parliament approved a bill on January 26, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"Unfortunately, it is not only the nationalists but also the whole Polish society which will have to pay the price, " said Grabowski, who is also a member of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw.