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WARSAW, Poland – The Latest on Poland reversing course on a disputed Holocaust speech law (all times local):
A Holocaust remembrance and research center in Jerusalem has welcomed the Polish government’s plans to remove criminal penalties for blaming Poland as a nation for the Holocaust, provisions that many feared would suppress academic inquiry.
Yad Vashem said in a statement Wednesday that the government’s reversal was “a positive development in the right direction.”
The memorial center says the “correct way to combat historical misrepresentations is by reinforcing open, free research and educational activities.”
Polish lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the change at the request of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The original law allowed criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for intentionally and falsely blaming Poland as a nation for Holocaust crimes in fact committed by Nazi Germany.
Yad Vashem said it supports “ensuring that educators and researchers are not hindered in grappling with the complex truth of Polish-Jewish relations before, during and after the Holocaust.”
The head of the Jewish community in Poland says the government’s decision to scrap controversial criminal provisions in a Holocaust speech law will help restore Poland’s relations with the Jewish diaspora, with Israel and with the United States.
Leslaw Piszewski said that the Jewish community in Poland was “very pleased” to see the government’s decision to back away from imposing criminal provisions for anyone attributing Nazi Germany’s crimes to Poles. Introduced earlier this year, those provisions had deeply strained Poland’s ties with Israel and with the U.S.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday to approve the change.
The World Jewish Congress has welcomed Poland’s decision to scrap criminal provisions that were part of a Holocaust speech law.
Polish lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the changes Wednesday at the request of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said the organization was “pleased that the Polish government has recognized the untenable nature of its new Holocaust law.”
The original version of the law, passed early this year, called for prison terms of up to three years for falsely accusing the Polish nation of Holocaust crimes committed by Nazi Germany. The ruling Law and Justice party said it was trying to stop the use of expressions like “Polish death camps” for Nazi camps on occupied Polish territory during World War II.
Lauder said, “Poles are understandably upset when Nazi German annihilation and concentration camps are referred to as ‘Polish’ simply due to their location on German-occupied Polish soil, but it was an egregious mistake to criminalize those who do so.”
Polish lawmakers have passed changes to a disputed Holocaust speech law, removing criminal provisions for attributing Nazi crimes to Poles.
The speaker of parliament, Marek Kuchcinski, said that the amendments passed 388 to 25 with five abstentions during the Wednesday vote.
The original version of the law, passed earlier this year, called for prison terms of up to three years for falsely accusing the Polish nation of Holocaust crimes that were committed by Nazi Germany.
Poland’s nationalist ruling party, Law and Justice, said it was trying to protect historic truth about Poland, which was a victim of World War II.
But the law sparked a major diplomatic crisis with Israel and the United States.
Polish lawmakers are debating a new version of a Holocaust speech law that would remove criminal provisions for statements deemed harmful to Poland’s good name.
A version of the law passed earlier this year called for prison terms of up to three years for falsely accusing the Polish nation of Holocaust crimes that were committed by Nazi Germany.
It sparked a major diplomatic crisis with Israel, where many felt it was an attempt to whitewash Poland’s history of violence against Jews during World War II. The United States warned it threatened academic freedom and that it would harm Poland’s “strategic position.”
The new draft bill was presented to parliament by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and represents a defeat for the nationalist government.