First lawsuit filed under controversial Polish ‘Holocaust law’

A Polish organization filed a lawsuit against an Argentinian newspaper for using a photo of Polish soldiers to illustrate an article on the 1941 Jedwabne pogrom.

By: JNS.org and World Israel News Staff

A Polish campaign group has filed the first legal action under the new Polish “Holocaust Law” that criminalizes any suggestion that Poland took part in crimes against the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

The Polish League Against Defamation is suing Argentina’s Página/12 daily newspaper for using a photograph of Polish soldiers who fought against Communists after the war to illustrate an article on the Jedwabne pogrom of 1941, in which local Poles massacred at least 340 Jews.

“The combination of these two threads: information about the crime on Jews in Jedwabne during the German occupation and the presentation of fallen soldiers of the independence underground is manipulation, an act to the detriment of the Polish nation,” the organization said in a statement.

Página/12 claimed not to have received any legal notice, only learning of the suit through the media.

The Polish League Against Defamation was established in 2012, and this is not its first legal action taken in cases it believes Poland has been defamed.

For instance, it filed a suit against the BBC in 2017 for accusing Polish train drivers of complicity in the Holocaust. The League is awaiting the date of a hearing. Also in 2017, the League field a suit against the France’s Le Parisien, which used the expression “camp Nazi polonaise.”

Poland’s Holocaust law, which took affect last Wednesday, has already triggered rising anti-Semitism in Poland. In reaction to criticism from Holocaust historians and others, the government said the law will be reviewed by Poland’s constitutional court.

Princeton University Professor Jan Tomasz Gross, an expert on Polish complicity in the Holocaust, previously stated that Poland’s new stance dissociating itself from the Holocaust is “a step back to the dark ages of anti-Semitism.”

The Polish-born sociologist and historian has stoked controversy in Poland with works that expose dark chapters in a wartime history of which Poles are otherwise proud, thanks to a strong resistance by Poles to Nazi Germany.

The latest uproar surrounding Gross began after he asserted in 2015 that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during the war. Though the exact numbers are difficult to measure, Gross said evidence indicates that Poles killed up to 30,000 Germans during the war, at most, while they probably killed 70,000 to 90,000 Jews, but possibly more.