Poland Going Ahead With Holocaust Bill the US Decried

Polish President Andrzej Duda will sign bill into law, but wants court to take a look
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2018 7:51 AM CST
It'll Soon Be Illegal to Blame Poland for Nazis' Crimes
In this July 29, 2016 file photo a man crosses the iconic rails leading to the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.   (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, file)

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?" (More Holocaust stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.