Photo: Pope Francis walks through a gate with the words «Arbeit macht frei» (Work sets you free) at the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Scanpix
Dear Hans Rustand,
Referring to your article Polen med umusikalsk lov the Embassy of the Republic of Poland would like to underline that the purpose of the Amended Act on the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and some other Acts, passed by the Sejm on the 26th of January was to eliminate public and contrary-to fact conduct that attributes responsibility or co-responsibility for Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich to the Polish Nation or the Polish State. The provisions of the amended act do not limit freedom of research, discussions on history or artistic activity.
In relation to the opinion expressed in the article on the responsibility of the Nazi German Camps during the WWII in Europe the Embassy would like to draw your attention to the undisputable historical facts: Poland occupied by Nazi Germany and Soviets in September 1939. The Polish authorities from the start unconditionally rejected the possibility of cooperation with the occupiers.
Nazi Germans are totally responsible for creating concentration and death camps and using them against humanity.
The policy of the German occupier was primarily aimed at the liquidation of the Polish intellectual elite and leadership, and at the subsequent enslavement, maximal exploitation, and Germanization of Polish society. Terror and executions were a constant element of the everyday life of the citizens of Poland. Poland was one of just a few countries in occupied Europe where helping Jews was punished by death. Furthermore, the punishment was inflicted not only on the helper, but also on his/her family and neighbors.
Under the German Nazi occupation during World War II some 6 million Polish people, about half of them of Polish Jews, were persecuted and exterminated along with thousands of foreign citizens, including Jews transported from the whole occupied Europe. During the Nazi German reign of terror there were the mass executions, forced evictions, resettlements, deportations to the numerous death and concentration, forced labour camps as well as POW camps and enslavement. Additionally there were also 150,000 victims of Soviet repression including the Polish officers and policemen killed in the Katyn massacre by NKVD in 1940 as well as from 700.000 to 1.5 mln of Poles and Polish citizens sent to Gulags. The exact number of victims and repressed people is unknown.
Coming back to the subject on the responsibility for the Nazis German ruling during the WW II it is so far from the historical facts and it seems absurd to connect it to the millions of murdered and terrorized Polishpeople.
In addition it is important to remember that at the same time Poles are the most numerous national group among people who have been honored by the Israeli Institute Yad Vashem with the title «Righteous among the nations of the world». About 6.700 Poles have been awarded this title by the State of Israel.
It does not mean that in these dreadful times there were no Poles who for money, food or to enhance their chance of survival, were able to kill or inform Nazi about hidden Jews or Poles rescuing them or the people fighting in the resistance movement, but it is important to see the real proportions.
The Embassy of the Republic Poland believes that having in mind the complexity of the tragic time under the Nazis and Soviet occupation, barely outlined here, can prevent preconceived assumptions and help to understand the history of the WWII.
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland strongly demand publishing apologies and making appropriate correction in this article.
With best regards,