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Thousands March on American Embassy

Polish nationalists protest US over Holocaust claims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2019 6:30 PM CDT
Thousands of Polish nationalists march to the US Embassy, in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, May 11, 2019.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
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(Newser) – Thousands of Polish nationalists marched to the US Embassy in Warsaw Saturday, protesting that America is putting pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust, the AP reports. The protest took place amid a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic hate speech in public life in Poland and it appeared to be one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in recent times. It also comes as far-right groups are gaining in popularity, pressuring the conservative government to move further to the right. Protesters, including far-right groups and their supporters, say the US has no right to interfere in Polish affairs and the US government is putting "Jewish interests" over the interests of Poland. A sociologist called the march "probably the biggest openly anti-Jewish street demonstration in Europe in recent years."

Poland was a major victim of Nazi Germany during World War II and those protesting say it is not fair to ask Poland to compensate Jewish victims when Poland has never received adequate compensation from Germany. "Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything?" says 22-year-old Kamil Wencwel. "Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests." Protesters say paying compensation would ruin Poland's economy. But Jewish organizations have been seeking compensation for Holocaust survivors and their families, considering compensation a matter of justice. With pressure building on this issue, the State Department's new envoy on anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, was in Warsaw this past week, telling leaders and media that the US is only urging Poland to fulfil a non-binding commitment it made in 2009 to act on the issue.

(Read more Holocaust stories.)

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