Poland denies reports it froze controversial Holocaust Law

Israeli officials may have celebrated their success in delaying the heavily criticized Polish Holocaust law a little too quickly.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

On Saturday, Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that the new law imposing sentences of up to three years in jail for suggesting Poland as a nation was complicit in the Holocaust will not be implemented until the country’s Constitutional Tribunal determines whether it is compatible with the constitution.

He also noted that the Tribunal’s judgment on the issue was necessary so that prosecutors would know how to apply the law.

At the same time, it was announced that an official Polish government delegation would fly to Israel this week to try to work out a version of the legislation that would be acceptable to both countries.

This seemingly led to Israel’s Foreign Ministry declaring that due to Israeli pressure, Poland was “freezing” the law that had led to a serious diplomatic rift between the two countries.

However, on Sunday, Warsaw denied reports of such a freeze. A spokesman for the Polish Justice Ministry posted a tweet saying that “every act passed in Poland by the parliament and signed by the president becomes a law and goes into effect according to the date specified in it.” The date in this case is March 1.

According to Israel Hayom, Polish officials have also denied that an official delegation was coming to Israel this week for discussions. It was unclear if this meant that no government representatives would arrive – or perhaps just historians or legal scholars would be coming – or if no compromise on wording would be sought at all.

Ziobro, as well as Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, have tried to emphasize that the law does not prohibit references to crimes committed by individual Poles and that it would not apply to Holocaust survivors, journalists or academic researchers. This would counter widespread condemnation of the bill as an attempt to whitewash history and restrict free speech.

However, Morawiecki in particular has often fanned the flames of the controversy rather than toning it down. He aroused fury in Jewish circles by declaring, less than two weeks ago in Munich, that along with Poles, “Jewish perpetrators” also bore responsibility for the Holocaust. On that same trip, he also published a photo on his Twitter page showing him paying his respects to a Polish anti-Communist underground group that collaborated with the Nazis towards the end of World War II.