Statement by the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki about the history of Poland and the role Poland plays in telling the truth about Holocaust.
Please find below the video message by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivered on February 1st.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Polish Nation suffered greatly during the Second World War. Poland, in its entirety, was under a dual German and Soviet occupation. Practically every Polish family mourned the loss of loved ones who perished at the hands of these occupying powers.
Poland was the first victim of the Third Reich during the war. Death and suffering in the Nazi-German concentration camps was a fate shared by Jews, Poles and those of many other national and ethnic groups.
The Holocaust was an unspeakable crime. Those who attempt to deny it should always be met with unequivocal condemnation. For many years, Polish law has held accountable those who try to deny the historical truth of the suffering under Nazi terror. Similar laws operate in other countries across Europe and the world.
Holocaust denial is not only a denial of German crimes, but also other ways of falsifying history. One of the worst types of this lie occurs when someone diminishes the responsibility of real perpetrators and attributes that responsibility to their victims.
We want to fight against this lie, in its every form. That is why we are amending the Law of the Institute of National Remembrance.
Death camps where millions of Jews were murdered were not Polish. This truth deserves protection - as it is a part of the historical truth of the Holocaust.
Our government condemns all crimes committed on Polish soil during the Second World War – regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or the victim.
We will never limit the free exchange of ideas in historical debates about the Holocaust. This is our duty to those who experienced it.
For the last years, we have made it our commitment to serve as guardians of the memory of the crimes of totalitarian rule, both in our country and abroad.
The Mauthausen-Gusen Camp serves as an example. Gusen, along with Katyn, was a site of mass murder of the Polish intellectuals. Jews and members of other ethnic and national groups were killed there as well.
After the war, the camp was destroyed, and a Tuscan-style villa was erected where the camp gates stood. Thanks to Polish engagement, the memory of Gusen’s murderous history has been saved.
The Polish state and individual Polish citizens have worked to ensure that the German concentration camps are preserved as memorials and physical reminders of the traumatic history at these sites.
In its struggle against false claims imputing the participation of the Republic of Poland in the German crime machine, Poland advocates for the truth.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The Holocaust was also an unthinkable tragedy for Poland. Of the six million Polish citizens who died during the Second World War, three million came from the Polish Jewish community. As a consequence, Poland is bound by an obligation, more than any other European country, to protect the truth about the crimes of the Holocaust.
Thus, we feel it is our duty to remind the world of Captain Pilecki’s mission to Auschwitz, the heroism of Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews, and the ruthless punishments doled out by the Polish underground state to those who denounced or murdered Jews. That the Nazis enacted a death penalty for Poles hiding Jews shows that the Germans knew Poles would help their Polish Jewish brothers.
It was our Polish compatriot Jan Karski, who tried, unsuccessfully, to awaken the consciousness of public opinion in Western countries during the war, informing them of German crimes.
We fully understand the emotions of Israel. There is a tremendous amount of work ahead of us to weave our shared, often complicated past, into a common historical narrative we can tell together. The culture of Polish Jews is an inseparable element of our Polish heritage.
Today, as the world must once again fight against new waves of anti-semitism, the Polish government states its position clearly: there is no room for hatred or the distortion of history.
Spreading the truth about the Holocaust is not a responsibility left to Israel alone. It is also of crucial importance for Poland. It is a battle for universal truth that serves as warning and lesson for the world.
The Chancellery of the Prime Minister