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Poland passes bill to jail people who use the term ''polish death camp''

Poland passes bill to jail people who use the term ''polish death camp''

''I can't imagine they will seriously try to implement this law" - said Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's top Nazi-hunter. He mentioned that the demand was based on facts as to correct what has been written in the history.

''They were not Polish death camps. They didn't run them. There weren't any Polish guards there, they are 100 percent right – they were Nazi death camps in Poland. But I can't imagine they would actually put people in jail for using the term. Even US President Barack Obama could be jailed under the law for having used the term 'Polish Death Camp in 2012" - Zuroff explained. "It's a declarative statement, an educational issue that combines with wider phenomenon of laws in various countries to criminalize certain statements about history" - said Zuroff.

The Polish government put forward the bill on Tuesday and hopes that it will eliminate Poland from being accused for the actions of Nazi Germany. The Justice Ministry drafted the bill as a measure correct the history and to end the false accusations that Poland gets for international war crimes against peace and humanity. The punishment for those who violate the law would be a heavy fine or three years in prison. However, many people fear that the bill could exempt historians and artists from work.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust said, '' The history of the Holocaust is a complex one and the Nazi occupation of Poland is no different. Accuracy when talking about this period of history is essential but the emphasis and priority should be to reach universal understanding and recognition of the facts through education.'' Some Holocaust experts have expressed concern over the implementation of the bill. Yad Vashem Holocoust Remembrance Center said, ''While it was dedicated to providing accurate historical information, it questioned the effectiveness of Poland's campaign to educate the public.''

''Their basic demand to call the former concentration camps, German-Nazi camps operated on Polish German-occupied soil is nevertheless an appropriate demand.'' Prof. Dina Porat, chief historian at Yad Vashem said, ''When you call them Polish camps, you accuse Polish of establishing and operating them.'' She noted that Yad Vashem supported the Polish government's request in 2006 to clear the reference of the official name of Auschwitz-Birkenau for the UNESCO registry and to refer to it as ''the former German-Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp.''

She said, '' But the way they [the Poles] would like to enforce the bill is more than extreme.'' “A law that would put you in prison for up to three years is unheard of, especially when you take into account that this is just one item of a law according to which whoever defames Poland and say Polish people, officials or institutions were involved in war crimes and crimes against the Jews, is defaming Poland and should be punished.

This is like an attempt to smother research and freedom of speech.” ''Polish historians like Jan Gross and Jan Grabowski have been been criminally investigated for their work on Polish crimes against Jews.'' Recently, a petition signed by a host of scholars was sent to Poland by Yad Vashem to stand in solidarity with their fellow historians. Porat said, ''here is fear of the Polish government rewriting history to whitewash Second World War Poland and present it to the world as a nation that was pure victim that should be pitied and compensated.''

AG

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