A lecture by Polish-Canadian Holocaust scholar Jan Grabowski at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw had to be abandoned after a far-right leader disrupted the event and reportedly told the institute’s director to “get out of Poland”. Another nationalist leader led a protest outside the venue.
Grabowski, the Warsaw-born son of a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor and a professor of history at the University of Ottowa, has long received criticism from right-wing figures in Poland over his research into crimes against Jews committed by Poles during World War Two, which critics say he has exaggerated and misrepresented.
He was due to give a lecture entitled “The (growing) Polish problem with the history of the Holocaust” co-organised by the German Historical Institute, the University of Warsaw’s history department, and the Max Weber Foundation.
According to a description by the organisers, the lecture would address “attempts to falsify the history of the Holocaust…by both the Polish authorities and independent organisations” with the aim of “defending the good name of Poland”.
However, 20 minutes into the lecture, it was disrupted by Grzegorz Braun, one of the leaders of the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja) party. Braun has a long history of promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories, including claiming that the US and Israel are involved in a plot to turn Poland into a “Jewish state”.
Braun, who had been sitting in the audience, reportedly ripped out the microphone being used for the lecture and knocked over loudspeakers before occupying the rostrum.
Police were called to the scene, but Braun told them he “refuses to leave the building [because] I am protecting the Polish nation against a provocative attack on our historical sensitivity”.