Poland moves to make phrase 'Polish death camps' a criminal offence

Bill is an effort to highlight that Nazi Germany bears responsibility for crimes against humanity

Lydia Smith
Saturday 27 January 2018 01:37
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The camps were established and operated by the Nazis after Poland was invaded in 1939
The camps were established and operated by the Nazis after Poland was invaded in 1939

Polish politicians have given the green light to a bill to criminalise statements which suggest Poland bears responsibility for crimes committed by Nazi Germany.

Phrases such as “Polish death camps” would be made a criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine.

The bill will also make it illegal to deny the murder of around 100,000 Poles by units in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army during the Second World War.

It still needs to be approved by Poland’s Senate and president.

Officials argue phrases such as “Polish death camps” suggest Poland is at least partly to blame for the camps in which millions of people, the majority Jewish, were killed by Nazi Germany.

The camps were established and operated by the Nazis after Poland was invaded in 1939.

Deputy justice minister Patryk Jaki told state news agency PAP: “Non-governmental organisations indicate that every other day the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ is used around the world.

“In other words, German Nazi crimes are attributed to Poles.

“And so far the Polish state has not been able to effectively fight these types of insults to the Polish nation.”

Critics say the law would have a stifling effect on debating history and freedom of expression within Poland.

Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) in facing accusations of stirring nationalistic sentiment to fuel the far-right.

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