The US and Israel pitched a fit, but it ultimately wasn't enough to fully stop Poland from moving ahead with its controversial Holocaust law. Polish President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday announced he would sign a bill that prohibits speech that states or suggests his nation was complicit in Nazi Germany's crimes. In a concession to critics, though, Duda will have the Constitutional Tribunal examine the law; Bloomberg reports the court has the power to force lawmakers to alter the law's language in whole or part. The New York Times quotes Duda as saying he's adding that step because the "very painful, delicate issue" needs to be handled thoughtfully, though the Times sees the move as doing little to assuage those who say it could curtail free speech and whitewash the role some Poles played in the killing of Jews during World War II.
Duda said that should the court clear the law, he'd like to see it specify exactly what type of speech is subject to prosecution. As it stands now, using the phrase "Polish death camp" to refer to Auschwitz and other Nazi-constructed concentration camps within the country can result in a prison term; claiming the Polish nation "is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes" is punishable by up to three years. In a Washington Post column, Anne Applebaum writes of the law's "ludicrous" potential: "Will the long arm of the Polish state reach out to academic conferences in Tokyo or Buenos Aires if someone uses an incorrect phrase? ... In a pompous speech the Polish prime minister gave supporting the law, an automatic translation service made it appear as if he himself said that 'camps where millions of Jews were murdered were Polish.' Should he go to prison, too? Should Google Translate?" (Read more Holocaust stories.)