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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • NEWS

  • 7 February 2018

    Building good relations between Poland and Israel, between Jews and Poles, is a matter that is close to my heart – declared President Duda.

    Explaining his decision to sign the legislation, President Duda asserted, “This is not a new law. I have spoken about this provision over a year ago, as well as during my visit to Israel last year. During that time an important issue was raised, namely: an expectation that this law will in no way block artistic and academic expression".

     

    As the President assured: "in the final version of Article 55a, the exemption for artistic and academic activities was in a very clear way noted. Therefore, the expectation raised by the Jewish community was recognized in the legislative proces".

     

    The President also recalled, that Poland was the first to be invaded in 1939 which precipitated the start of World War II. From the first days of the war, the President added, Poland was occupied. “I wish to recall, that Polish lands were torn apart, on the one hand by Nazi Germany, and on the other by the Soviet Union, which attacked Poland on September 17 in agreement with the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and annexed part of Poland’s territory. Due to this, in the geographic sense, the Polish state ceased to exist, there was land, which once constituted the Polish state.”

     

    On Polish land, German Nazis constructed death camps and concentration camps, with the most infamous of these being Auschwitz Birkenau, where each year Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations are held. “The truth is, that of all the nationalities, Jews compose the largest group killed. (…) But millions of Poles were also killed: they also died in Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps, the were killed while being persecuted, they were killed on city streets, they were killed fighting the Germans in partisan units, and they were killed after being tortured in Pawiak and other places, where Germans murdered people, realizing their machinery of extermination” emphasized President Duda.

     

    “Of course I do not contend: there were also instances of great injustice. There were blackmailers, there was also fear. Besides hatefulness and giving people up to curry favor with the occupier or even to acquire material gain, there were also instances of pure fear, fear of death, fear of the Germans coming, finding the hidden Jewish individuals, and killing the entire family.”

     

    “But I wish to repeat once more: there was no systematic involvement of the Polish state, which did not exist, or any Polish institutions in the German machinery of death. There was no institutional collaboration between Poland and Germany. In many countries there were governments supporting Hitler, in many countries there were puppet regimes appointed by Nazi Germany, in Poland there was no such situation. Poland fought against the Germans” added President Duda.

     

    President Duda assured, that building good relations between Poland and Israel, between Jews and Poles, is a matter that is close to his heart. Responding to critical voices, which have appeared in Israel and the United States that this law could lead to falsifying historical truth, President Duda emphasized, that in his opinion there is no such fear.

     

    However, to take into account these critical opinions regarding the legislation, the President has decided to send the law to the Constitutional Tribunal which will analyze the constitutionality of the law in two matters, first, whether it is compatible with Article 54, which describes the right to freedom of opinion and speech, and second, the precision of the wording of the criminal law.

     

    “I believe that this is a resolution which, one the one hand secures Poland’s interest, our dignity, historical truth, that we should be judged in a fair way in the world and that we as a state and a nation should not be slandered, but on the other hand, also takes into account the sensitivity of those for whom the issue of historical memory and the memory of the Holocaust is extremely important, above all for those who survived and who should tell the world, while they still can, how they remember those times and about what they have gone through” concluded President Duda.

     

     

    Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, DC

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