‘Poles cooperated with Nazis… I don’t whitewash it,’ says Netanyahu in Poland; Diplomatic crisis averted

“Here I am saying Poles cooperated with the Nazis. I know the history and I don’t whitewash it. I bring it up,” Netanyahu stated.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

A diplomatic crisis was quickly resolved in Warsaw on Thursday over an apparent misquoting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, it was originally reported, said that the Polish nation had cooperated with the Nazis during the Holocaust – an allegation that is against Polish law and deemed highly offensive.

After attending a Holocaust memorial at the POLIN Jewish museum in Warsaw Thursday, following a two-day U.S.-led Middle East summit on peace and security in the Middle East, the Israeli leader responded to a question posed by Times of Israel regarding the Polish Holocaust law. According to the Times, Netanyahu denied suggestions of going along with historical revisionism.

“Here I am saying Poles cooperated with the Nazis. I know the history and I don’t whitewash it. I bring it up,” Netanyahu stated.

In fact, he said that “Poles”– as opposed to the “Polish nation” – were responsible for cooperating with the Nazis.

Following the original misquote in some media, Polish President Adrzej Duda suggested moving a high-level Visegrad, or V-4 (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia) summit, scheduled to take place in Israel next week, to another location due to Netanyahu’s alleged comment. The V-4 countries are scheduled to take place in Israel next Monday and Tuesday.

Israel’s embassy in Poland contacted the Polish leadership Thursday night and clarified that Netanyahu “didn’t say the Polish nation carried out crimes against Jews, but only that no one has been sued under the Holocaust law for saying ‘Poles’ collaborated,” according to the Times.

Netanyahu “never mentioned the ‘Polish nation’ in this context,” Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari said.

New legislation in Poland, enacted in February last year, carries fines and prison sentences of up to three years for public statements attributing Nazi crimes to Poland. Both Washington and Jerusalem criticized the law, with Israeli officials and Holocaust scholars saying it would allow Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews during Nazi Germany’s World War II occupation of Poland. Indeed, the notorious Auschwitz death camp, among others, was located in Poland.