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Leading Polish politicians pledge to build a 'Polocaust' museum

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The term ‘Polocaust’ suggests an analogy with the Holocaust, which is likely to raise eyebrows in Israel.

Polish Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin called for the creation of a “Polocaust” museum dedicated to Polish victims of foreign occupation during World War Two.

Poland, whose territory was arbitrarily split between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, endured repressive and bloody occupation during the war. Poland had to suffer horrific crimes done against them by both the communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

The initiative of creating a “Polocaust” museum, however, will likely raise eyebrows in Israel after a new Polish law designed to erase the responsibility of locals in abetting the killing of three million Polish Jews was past.

The law has put Israel and Poland at loggerheads over the last few weeks, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of recalling the ambassador to Jerusalem. Of course Jews won’t be happy about it. If it isn’t about them, it’s bad. Go figure.

The terminology of the “Polocaust”, moreover, implicitly suggests an analogy between the Holocaust and persecutions endured by Poles in times of war, which Israeli political leaders are not likely to accept.

A plaque at the very entrance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in Poland is telling of how Poles feel they must remember tragedies endured by non-Jewish Poles even though they pale in comparison to the Holocaust.

It is dedicated to “Polish inhabitants of the area who were forced to leave in 1940-1941 to make space for the German concentration camp”.

Israel’s embassy in Poland revealed that a flood of anti-Semitism has poured in following the aftermath of the controversial bill passed by Poland’s senate and approved by its President.

“In the last few days we could not help but notice a wave of anti-Semitic statements, reaching the Embassy through all channels of communication,” the embassy said in a statement on its website. “Many of them targeted Ambassador Anna Azari personally,” it added.

“We have restrained ourselves from reaction, but we feel we should no more. Anti-Semitic statements are overflowing the internet channels in Poland, but they have become present on the mainstream media too, especially on (public broadcaster station) TVP Info.

The statement also added that “we would like to use this opportunity to repeat that Israel stands with Poland in using the proper term for the death camps – German Nazi camps.”

The law, which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term, was intended to safeguard Poland’s image abroad, but has instead drawn criticism from Israel, the US, EU and Ukraine.

Israeli authorities see one of the bill’s provisions as an attempt to deny Polish participation in Nazi Germany’s extermination of Jews and feared that it would open the door to prosecuting any Holocaust survivors who mention Poles being involved in war crimes.

“Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth. No law will change the facts,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said shortly after the new law was passed.

In a statement which aggravated the crisis further, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that there were Polish perpetrators of the Holocaust just like there were “Jewish ones”.

The Prime Minister likely referred to Polish Jews who, under duress and fearing for their lives from the Nazis, accepted to follow orders thus somewhat oiling the machinery of death. Such figures are mostly referred to as Kapos.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu slammed the statement by Morawiecki saying it was “outrageous.”

“The Polish prime minister’s remarks here in Munich are outrageous. There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people. I intend to speak with him forthwith,” Netanyahu stated.


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