The European Jewish Congress expresses its deep concern over the decision by the Polish Lower House of Parliament to change the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance.

We believe that this amendment will have the effect of closing off debate about responsibility for this most monstrous crime in human history, the Holocaust of six million Jews – three million of whom were Polish Jews. Its wording is also extremely troubling, since it can be read as criminalising attempts to document these crimes, or even the testimonies of survivors.

This is a particularly negative step coming as it does when the direct memory of these terrible events is fading with the passing of Holocaust survivors.

We concur with our affiliate, the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, that it is unacceptable to use the term ‘Polish death camps’, and while we recognise that the principal perpetrators of these murders were the soldiers and instruments of Nazi Germany, it is undeniable that the murder machine was also aided by local collaborators, including from Poland, who were not Germans.

In no way does this statement of fact apportion responsibility to Poland as a country or to the Polish people, nor does it exonerate or minimise the role of the Nazis.

Moreover, the European Jewish Congress recognises the terrible suffering of the Polish people during the Nazi occupation and most particularly the outstanding role of the thousands of non-Jewish Poles who risked their own lives to save those of their fellow Jewish citizens.

We welcome the decision of the Polish President to enter into discussions with Jewish and Israeli representatives in order to seek better methods to spread the educational and moral lessons of the Holocaust.

Outlawing the diffusion of truth serves neither the memory of the Holocaust, the few remaining survivors, nor the important and positive development of dialogue between Poland and the Jewish people.