by MATTHEW TYRMAND
As the global media has highlighted ad nauseam, Poland recently passed through the legislature a bill that seeks to criminalize the holding of the Polish state complicit for the German Nazi crimes of the Holocaust and the attendant German atrocities during WWII. Currently the bill is being looked at by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal after Polish President Andrzej Duda sent it for review to make sure it complies with the Polish Constitution.
This bill, known as “Ustawa IPN” (“Institute of National Remembrance Law”), was motivated by Poles’ desire to correct historical inaccuracies regarding Poland’s image and the purported role Poland played during this dark time in history. Poland suffered more than any other country during this period as the Nazi plan was to extinguish Polish-ness and Poland from the map in the hegemonic expansion of the Third Reich, in addition to their “Final Solution” vis a vis European Jewry.
Widely accepted estimates of loss of life in Poland suggest six million Poles perished – three million Jewish and three million non-Jewish Poles. No Polish family was left untouched by the Nazi death machine. As a result, when Poles hear the words “Polish death camps” or “Polish Holocaust” they bristle. Only in recent years did the international media formally change their style guides to strike “Polish death camps” from the press lexicon (and in a fitting display of how widespread this ignorance was, even such a supposedly liberal, sensitive, worldly, cosmopolitan, nuanced ivory-tower academic elite as Barack Obama used the term, referencing Auschwitz in a speech in 2012, to such widespread consternation that it served as a final straw on this issue).
Poland was literally the only country in Nazi-occupied Europe that never demonstrated any complicity with the fascist Nazi occupiers (we all remember the Vichy regime in France and the Quisling one in Norway, which were closer to the norm than the exception in continental Europe). Poland operated a government in exile in London, never had a single SS volunteer, and saw penalties for hiding Jews more severe than anywhere else (whole families, such as the Ulma family in Markowa, Poland, were executed for doing the right and honorable thing).
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