POLAND has agreed to hold talks with Israel over controversial new legislation relating to the Holocaust, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last night.
He spoke ahead of Pope Francis’s address to an Italian conference on anti-semitism, at which the Catholic leader called on people of different faiths to build a “common memory” of the Holocaust.
Poland’s new Bill criminalises any references to nazi death camps on occupied Polish soil as “Polish camps” — and also outlaws assertions of Polish complicity in the Holocaust, in which six million Jews, over half of them from Poland, made up the majority of those exterminated.
Critics say the law could prohibit historical research indicating the participation of some Poles in the murder of Jews.
Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Mark Weitzman said it constituted an “obscene whitewashing” of history and could be used to stop Holocaust survivors talking about their personal experiences.
Nationalist governments in central and eastern Europe have heavily rewritten the history of the second world war to present the Soviet Red Army, which liberated the region from nazi occupation and ended the Holocaust, in a worse light.
In Ukraine, where the government styles itself as the heir to far-right nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera’s Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, references to that organisation’s active participation in the ethnic cleansing of Jews and Poles has been criminalised.
Even anti-communist historian Anthony Beevor has fallen foul of the ban, with his best-selling book Stalingrad banned by Kiev for detailing the murder of Jewish children by Ukrainian nationalists.
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