Poland defends prime minister's Holocaust remark

  19 February 2018    Read: 1216
Poland defends prime minister
Poland yesterday sought to defend remarks by its prime minister which Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu called "outrageous."

"The comments of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki during a discussion in Munich were by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, or charge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust with responsibility for what was a Nazi German perpetrated genocide," Morawiecki's spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said in a statement.

The Israeli premier, who like Morawiecki was in Munich for a global security conference, on Saturday responded angrily to the remark that the Holocaust had involved "Jewish perpetrators" as well as Polish ones.

It showed "an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people", Netanyahu said in a statement.

Despite the claims of either side, history tells us that some Jews were in fact being forced to aid operations in several camps. They were called Sonderkommandos, or 'special units.'

Millions of people during World War II died in camps not only directly but also because of Typhus, and the Jewish Sonderkommandos were made responsible for carrying cremating the infected bodies of the deceased.

Morawiecki's spokeswoman countered yesterday that to the contrary the Polish prime minister "has repeatedly and categorically opposed denial of the Holocaust-the murder of European Jewry-as well as anti-Semitism in all its forms".

Morawiecki's claim about the Holocaust's perpetrators came amid an unprecedented diplomatic row with Israel sparked by a controversial law passed by Poland's senate this month.

The law sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich".

Morawiecki responded: "It's not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukraine and German perpetrators."

Morawiecki's claims stand corrected, as people from many of Germany's allies did in fact help with the mass deportation operations and some non-German Axis units even participated on their own in some atrocities during the war.

After a slew of negative reactions to the comments, the Polish PM's spokeswoman sought to clarify the remark saying his words "should be interpreted as a sincere call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality of those involved in each crime."

"Each crime must be judged individually, and no single act of wickedness should burden with responsibility entire nations, which were conquered and enslaved by Nazi Germany," she said.

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