Polish PM: Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki responds to controversy over bill to outlaw mention of Polish involvement in Holocaust.

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Elad Benari,

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
Reuters

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki responded on Saturday night to the controversy surrounding the bill outlawing any reference to the Nazi death camps in the country as being Polish.

“Auschwitz is the most bitter lesson on how evil ideologies can lead to hell on earth. Jews, Poles, and all victims should be guardians of the memory of all who were murdered by German Nazis. Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase,” he tweeted, in a reference to the German words posted on the camp's infamous wrought-iron gate that mean "Work makes you free".

Poland's parliament on Friday adopted the legislation which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as being Polish.

The measure is intended to apply to both Polish citizens and foreigners. It is expected to easily pass in the Senate before being signed by the president.

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized the bill, saying, "The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied."

"I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister this evening and express to him my strong position against the law," he added.

President Reuven Rivlin responded to the law as well, saying, "'One cannot fake history, one cannot rewrite it, one cannot hide the truth. Every crime, every offence must be condemned, denounced, must be examined and exposed.' This was stated in the Knesset by former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski."

"Only 73 years have passed since the gates of hell were flung open. Living Holocaust survivors are disappearing from the world and we still have to fight for the memory of the Holocaust as it was.

"The Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the entire world must ensure that the Holocaust is recognized for its horrors and atrocities.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett instructed schools to dedicate two hours this week to study about the involvement of European nations in the Holocaust.

"This is a shameful disregard of the truth. It is a historic fact that many Poles aided in the murder of Jews, handed them in, abused them, and even killed Jews during and after the Holocaust," he said.

"It is also a historic fact that the Germans initiated, planned and built the work and death camps in Poland. That is the truth, and no law will rewrite it. These facts must be taught to the next generation," added Bennett.








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