Polish chief rabbi: Holocaust law sows distortions

Poland’s chief rabbi says a lack of clarity surrounding the country’s controversial Holocaust law has led to a “distortion of facts.”

Rabbi Michael Schudrich says the law, which makes it illegal to accuse the Polish nation of complicity in crimes committed by Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust, has caused widespread confusion.

“We are hearing many more distortions of facts than we heard two weeks ago,” Schudrich told CNN. “The way the law was written and presented failed to meet its goal and that’s something we are going to have to work on.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the bill ahead of it being assessed by the country’s Constitutional Tribunal.

The law would ban the use of terms such as “Polish death camps” in relation to Auschwitz and other such camps located in Nazi-occupied Poland. Violations would be punished by a fine or a jail sentence of up to three years.

“My sense is that no one anticipated this strength of a negative response,” Schudrich said. “Part of it clearly is that for many Poles it’s been too painful and too long to hear expressions like ‘Polish Death Camp;’ it’s blaming them for something they didn’t do.”

“One of the most horrible places on the earth Auschwitz — you can understand it that if you didn’t do it and are being blamed for it. that’s upsetting. So I understand that. However the way the law has been written, the way it had been explained to the public, was done clearly in an insufficient manner.”

He believes that the Jewish community and the government need to communicate more clearly. “What is very important now is that the two sides listen to each other,” he added. “So what has been heartbreaking over the last 10 days is how people have been talking at each other.”

“Clearly this law was supposed to me about education, to educate the world what the Poles did and didn’t do during World War II, what they were complicit of and weren’t complicit of. It’s education and as we could see the goal of education has not been met. The opposite has happened.”

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