On Friday, 26 January, the lower house of the Polish Parliament passed a bill that outlaws the blaming of Poles for crimes committed during the Holocaust. In the first place let us emphasize that the use of the term “Polish death camps” is unacceptable. For years, we have been opposing the term that so unjustly distorts history.
The commemoration of the Holocaust is an essential part of the Polish-Jewish memory, also in contemporary Poland. That is why it is so crucial for for Poles and Jews to speak to each other so that we can get a better understanding of what had taken place during the Holocaust , including events that are painful to discuss.
The definition of the Holocaust is well established. The Shoah was the systematic, bureaucratic and state-sponsored persecution and murdering of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Other victims included the Roma people, prisoners of war, non-Jewish Poles, disabled persons, sexual minorities, those persecuted on political, ideological and behavioral grounds.
The essence of the reconciliation perspective towards the Holocaust remembrance is sensitivity and mutual understanding. The Shoah was the biggest tragedy in our modern history. It has a tremendous impact on our lives and relations. 73 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we still carry the burden of the Holocaust. The machinery and the system of the Nazi Germany bore consequences for generations.
It is also of highest importance to remember that the memory and the knowledge of the Holocaust is based on testimonies, research and commemorations. Putting legal restrictions on our memories and narratives poses high risk to our common Polish-Jewish history and the knowledge as to what happened to the Jewish people. Such restrictions aim to make us abstain from our work dedicated not only to building a stable and vibrant Jewish life on Poland, but also remembering and commemorating the Holocaust victims, martyrs and heroes. Nevertheless, we will continue our work.
Jewish Community of Warsaw
The Union of Jewish Communities in Poland
Chief Rabbi of Poland