A Polish official is taking action against Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, over an exhibit pointing to the Polish cooperation with the Nazi authorities, saying he “will do everything to change this information immediately.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
According to Radio Maryja, Jan Dziedziczak, deputy director of Poland’s Foreign Ministry, is offended. On a visit to Israel with compatriots who have been honored as Righteous Among the Nations and veterans of World War II, he visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem on Thursday – and saw an inscription among the exhibits that raised his ire.
The explanatory note stated that the Germans, along with the “Polish police,” guarded the entrance to the Lodz Ghetto. One of the veterans who accompanied Dziedziczak reminded him that Lodz was in the part of Poland that had been annexed by Germany outright (in contrast to the “General Government,” which was a German zone of occupation in the country).
Immediately, Radio Maryja reported, Dziedziczak got in touch with his embassy.
“I asked for immediate intervention from our diplomatic mission in Israel,” he said. “We will not leave this matter and we will do everything to change this information immediately.”
In other words, Dziedziczak is protesting the fact that Yad Vashem included information about an official Polish police force that was incorporated into the Third Reich. This would therefore contravene Poland’s new law that states that it is a criminal offense to ascribe responsibility to the Polish nation for crimes committed by the Nazis in the conquered country.
Dziedziczak also stated that action must be taken “to restore the truth.”
Last month, Poland enacted a law that criminalizes ascribing “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich.” Israel, the US and other countries decried the law as an attempt to whitewash Poland’s complacency in the Holocaust, hindering freedom of speech and academic research.
Yad Vashem, the preeminent museum of the history of the Holocaust, states on its website that most Polish police officers complied with the Nazi order to return to work under the occupation force. The police were employed “on a wide scale against the Jewish population,” Yad Vashem says, and “had an active role in policing ghettos in occupied Poland and searching for Jews who sought refuge with the local population after escaping from ghettos and camps.”
The Polish police demonstrated “absolute devotion” to the Nazi authorities, according to Yad Vashem, “although a handful of cases of assistance to Jews by some officers also occurred.”
The Polish state delegation has been in Israel since Sunday with its World War II heroes. The representatives of the Polish Righteous stressed the need for peaceful talks between the governments of Poland and Israel, emphasizing that it would be possible to settle disputes over the past of both the Polish and Jewish nations, Radio Maryja said.