Polish insult to Holocaust survivors

 

Sir, – The Polish parliament has just passed legislation that makes it almost impossible for Holocaust survivors and their families to successfully claim restitution for property stolen from them during the Nazi occupation. Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that, “Poland is definitely not going to pay for the Germans’ crimes – not a zloty, not a euro and not a dollar”.

My grandfather was arrested at the factory he owned by Polish policemen, not Germans, in November 1939, tortured for 11 days in Radogoczsz detention camp before being shot into a pit.

Could Mr Morawiecki explain to me why Poland or Poles should continue to benefit from his property?

In 2018, the government outlawed any public expression of Poland’s collaboration in the Holocaust as it promotes a mythic and heroic narrative where Poles risked their lives to protect their Jewish neighbours against Nazi persecution. If this is the case, they should welcome the rightful restitution of stolen property. But while some Poles showed extraordinary courage to save Jews, such was the prevalence of anti-Semitism in Poland that Jews were not even welcome in the Resistance; they had to form their own.

Polish pogroms against Jews happened throughout the war, most notably in Jedwabne in 1941 and in Kielce in 1946, 18 months after the Nazis were vanquished. Poland has an historic problem with anti-Semitism, something the current government has done nothing to confront. On the contrary, it has used the issue of restitution shamelessly to whip up its base.

I hope the European Union takes meaningful action in order to protect the democratic values of the union. A rise in anti-Semitism is a certain sign of a decline in liberal democracy. In Europe, we know what this leads to.

– Yours, etc,

OLIVER SEARS,

Founder,

Holocaust Awareness

Ireland,

Dublin 2.