Poland continues to bravely fight its own history: the demolition of monuments to Soviet liberators was followed by a ban on calling the death camps "Polish" located on its territory. The punishment is three years in prison. Israel has already called the innovation "unacceptable," but on this issue it is worthwhile to address Russia. She also has something to say.
The law has already passed the Sejm, and there is little doubt that it will be passed by the Senate and signed by President Andrzej Duda. The document is American-style: its jurisdiction extends to the whole world and applies "both to citizens of Poland and to foreigners, regardless of the rules in force at the place of commission of the act."
Not surprisingly, this was the reason for the diplomatic scandal.
The world-wide Holocaust Remembrance Center in Yad Vashem, located in Jerusalem, issued the following statement: "We oppose a new law that could damage historical truths about the assistance that the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust. "Yad Vashem" will continue to support research aimed at uncovering the complex truth regarding the attitude of the Polish population towards Jews during the Holocaust. Restrictions on statements by scientists or others about the direct or indirect participation of the Polish people in crimes committed on its land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion of historical truth. "
The Israeli Foreign Ministry urged the Polish authorities to change the provisions of the law, stressing: "It is impossible to change the historical truth, it is unacceptable to teach the families of the survivors of the Holocaust, who every day live with the memory of their relatives who perished."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also did not stay aloof: "The law is absurd, I am categorically against this law. It is impossible to change history and you can not deny the Holocaust. I instructed the Israeli ambassador in Poland to express the Israeli tough position tonight. "
Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, speaking in Auschwitz during the ceremony on the occasion of the 73 anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp by the Red Army, really criticized the new law: "Israel regards it as an opportunity to punish the Holocaust victims. Israel understands who built Auschwitz and other camps, everyone knows that they were not Poles. But we see this as an inability to tell the truth about genocide. "
A small Jewish community inside Poland is also unhappy. Chief Rabbi Michael Schmudrick called the bill "bad and pathetic."
The leadership of Poland so far portrays itself as an offended party.
Prime Minister Mateusz Moravetski, for example, said: "In a conversation with the Prime Minister of Israel, I stressed that the Polish state was the victim of an attack and occupation. There can be no question of Poland's responsibility for the Holocaust. " And in his Twitter account on Sunday night he reminded: "Poland and Israel in 2016 adopted a general statement in which they oppose all attempts to distort the history of the Jewish or Polish people by denying or minimizing the tragedy of Jews during the Holocaust or using erroneous terms , such as the "Polish death camps".
Already on Monday, in an interview with the Polish press agency, Moravetsky developed the theme: "It is important for the Polish and Jewish peoples who have experienced such a painful experience the dissemination of a true, not a false history. In the world there is no shortage of people who, unfortunately, act so that they turn worthy deeds into crimes. In an attacked house where two families live, one of whom is killed by bandits, one can not blame the other for complicity, because it was also partially destroyed. "
Information on Israel's response to these excuses has not yet been received.
Moravetsky is right that Poland is fighting a long and bitter struggle with the term "Polish death camps". And it does this on all fronts, within the framework of not only official, but also popular diplomacy.
Dedicated to the history of the problem, the article in the Russian-language "Wikipedia" is one of the reference ones: here the references to various sources are carefully collected, bringing to the reader the main idea: "Poland has nothing to do with the death camps on its territory, Germany and Russia are to blame."
An English-language article on the same subject is even larger and more detailed.
It is another matter that the majority of those who use the term "Polish death camps" in the sense of "Hitlerite concentration camps on the territory of Poland" do not try to accuse Poland of complicity in the holocaust. It's just a geographical fact. What is the cause of such furious and even hysterical attempts to prohibit mentioning that the camps were located exactly in Poland?
There are two explanations for this. The first - the really existed Polish death camps for the Red Army soldiers who were captured after an unsuccessful attempt by the Bolsheviks in 1920 to restore the western borders of the Russian Empire in the Polish direction. The Poles do not deny that there were many prisoners, and there are few survivors, but they say that this happened "unintentionally", and in general - "we are not guilty, they themselves came".
Very illustrative in this sense, the interview to the publication "Rzeczpospolita" was given by the historian Zbigniew Karpus seven years ago, who, by the way, recognizes much of what official Warsaw is not ready to agree to yet. The interview is entitled: "Polish death camps" is a Soviet myth. "
Karpus first states that the prisoners died only because of illness: "Typhoid, dysentery really mowed people in the camps. According to our estimates, as a whole, 18 thousand prisoners died. But these people were not starved or shot. "
Then he admits that the food problems were still: "The war is over, a lot of people were under arms. It was necessary to do something with the demobilizing Polish army, to this was added 50 thousand of our eastern allies. And the reserves were not large. The authorities had to decide: who should help first of all-their own or their enemies? Poland appealed for help to the French and the British, but they had no desire to provide support. " That is, in the hungry deaths of prisoners, not Warsaw, but Paris and London are to blame.
It is further asserted that there were instances of sadistic treatment of prisoners, and, in the opinion of Karpus, that they were covered in the press, "it is best to testify that they did not intend to kill prisoners".
At the end of the interview, the historian himself and his interviewer slide into open propaganda. "Russians successfully play anti-Katyn cards. Should not Poland in that case recall the fate of our prisoners 1920 year? "- Asks the journalist. Karpus replies: "We have long been paying attention to the fact that what happened in the 1920 with captured Bolsheviks can only be compared with what happened at this time with the Polish prisoners. Together with colleagues, we published a collection of documents on the tragic fate of our military in Bolshevik captivity: "Winners behind barbed wire." Soon the book "The Poles in Siberia" with the dramatic memories of the prisoners returning from the camps will be published. "
In a word, the Poles are categorically not ready to admit even the slightest responsibility for inhuman treatment of the Red Army soldiers captured. We are ready only to accuse Russia.
But even if you believe Karpus that the Poles were struggling to alleviate the fate of the prisoners, this does not change the essence. Those camps were really Polish death camps, where people died of disease and hunger in tens of thousands.
Concerning Auschwitz (aka Auschwitz-Birkenau), there is information that there were no ethnic Poles among the concentration camp staff, and among the people who were killed, on the contrary, there were. But the evidence of the complicity of Polish citizens in the Holocaust, the facts of the issuance of Jewish families by the Poles and Jewish pogroms on the territory of the already liberated Poland abound. And this is the second motive for making a scandalous law.
Traditions of Polish anti-Semitism are centuries old. Neither after the occupation of Poland by Germany, nor after the liberation of the Soviet Union, they have not disappeared anywhere. The pogrom in Kielce in July 1946, which killed more than 40 Jews, caused a massive departure from the country of the few Jews who survived the Holocaust. Poles, of course, try to avoid responsibility here, calling the tragedy "provocation of Soviet intelligence".
Hypothetically, Russia may also be offended by the fact that after thousands of years, accompanied by murders, robberies and expulsion of Jews from European states (England, France, Spain), the Russian word "pogrom" entered into international usage. While most of the pogroms in the Russian Empire occurred in territories outside the current Russian Federation. But it is unlikely that even the most eccentric Duma deputy will come up with the idea of trying to ban this word on fear of criminal prosecution.
The Polish death camps were located in the territory of occupied Poland.
If the Poles did not feel guilty and responsible for the numerous deaths of Jews, it is unlikely that their reaction to the statement of this geographical and historical fact was so hysterical.
It is necessary to reconcile with your own history. Constant attempts to rewrite it, embellish and redo it can not lead to anything good - only to a new series of national grievances and international scandals.
And this, by the way, applies not only to Poland.